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Pyrite Panel Report Implementation

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 18 September 2012

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Questions (38)

Dessie Ellis

Question:

38. Deputy Dessie Ellis asked the Minister for the Environment; Community and Local Government the position regarding the progress made on the implementation of the recommendations of the Pyrite report and any other work being undertaken to resolve the issue. [39326/12]

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Oral answers (7 contributions) (Question to Environment)

The pyrite report, which contains 24 interrelated recommendations covering a wide range of issues, provides a comprehensive framework to enable me and the other stakeholders to make progress towards providing solutions for homeowners. Implementation of many of the recommendations requires the involvement and co-operation of a number of stakeholders and other bodies. My Department and I will be working to achieve progress on implementation of these recommendations as quickly as possible. The report recommends engagement by those stakeholders in processes which will provide solutions for homeowners. My preferred approach to solutions for homeowners is for responsible stakeholders to take ownership of this problem and work with the Department to provide an industry-led solution thereto. I have already begun a consultation process with key stakeholders and have given them until the end of September to come back to me with credible solutions. In the absence of a voluntary approach in this regard, I will have to consider an imposed solution along the lines recommended in the report in relation to the imposition of a levy.

The National Standards Authority of Ireland, NSAI, has begun working on the development of a testing protocol and a method statement for remediation work. I am hopeful this work will be completed quickly. The recently published draft building control amendment regulations provide for the introduction of mandatory certificates of compliance as recommended by the panel. My Department has had discussions with the Construction Industry Federation, CIF, in regard to the establishment of a registration process for builders and contractors.

I thank the Minister. It is nearly three months since the report was issued. It was a good report with many good recommendations, many of which concern levies on the building industry, the insurance bodies and other groups, such as the quarries. The levy would take a long time to build up if it came to fruition. One of the significant issues is the seriousness of the circumstances that obtain. It is estimated in the report that there are 12,000 homes affected. There is probably a lot more. They are generally private homes, not local authority homes and the others in question. There is a considerable number in addition.

I have a number of questions for the Minister on this matter. The CIF, the Irish Concrete Federation, Homebond and other stakeholders have been given until this month to respond. Have any of them done so with any idea on their contributing, helping out or, in some way, bailing out the people who are badly affected? Will legislation be required at any stage in regard to this? Will local authorities that are looking for funding to carry out remedial works be availed of through the fund? Will the money come from the fund or from local government funding? Before there can be further progress, we need central government funding to start the process. Does the Minister intend to put in place a Government fund of some description? It can be taken from the levies if these are imposed.

Deputy Ellis realises that the State is not liable in this matter, and there is case law to show that. I do not know why the Government would be putting money into a system in respect of which it is not liable. We are facilitating a process to help homeowners who, through no fault of their own, have been put in a difficult position arising from the pyrite problem. In the report, it is estimated that 850 dwellings currently have a claim with a guaranteed provider and need remediation immediately. There are approximately 10,300 homes that are potentially exposed according to the panel's estimation. We are developing a test, through the NSAI, to ensure we will be in a position to identify the extent of the problem among the 10,300.

I have given the stakeholders until the end of the month to come back with proposals. I am prepared to wait until the end of the month to determine whether there will be any. However, I assure the Deputy I will be implementing a new set of proposals. If legislation is required, I will bring it forward as quickly as possible to ensure we will have funds from the industry to carry out remediation on the houses that need it urgently.

I thank the Minister for his response. Some 850 houses are significantly damaged. The situation is so serious that urgent attention is necessary. Will the Minister stick to his September deadline and impose on the relevant parts of the industry a mechanism to deal with the issue? If legislation is required, will it be backdated? I am worried that it will be argued that what happened occurred in the past whereas everything will be okay from this point onwards.

If I had wanted to wash my hands of this problem, I would have done so a long time ago, as the State is not liable. Thanks to the panel's expertise, I have developed a set of recommendations that I am anxious to implement on behalf of home owners. I would like to believe that the stakeholders being consulted will be positive in their responses and will table proposals. I assure the Deputy that I am determined to help home owners by imposing a solution if one is not offered voluntarily.

What about legislation?

We will need to consider that matter following the responses from the stakeholders.

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