Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Questions (1180)

Fiona O'Loughlin


1180. Deputy Fiona O'Loughlin asked the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government if assistance is available for persons resident in a housing estate (details supplied) in County Kildare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45343/19]

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Written answers (Question to Housing)

In July 2015, the then Minister directed that a review be undertaken by an independent fire expert to develop a framework for general application, in the interest of supporting owners and residents living in developments where concerns regarding non-compliance with fire safety requirements arise. It included a case study based on the housing estate that the Deputy refers to.

The Framework was published in August 2017 and contains the following;

- an explanation of the statutory provisions in respect of fire safety, namely the Building Control Acts 1990 to 2014 and the Fire Services Acts 1981 & 2003, and the respective responsibilities of owners, designers, builders, occupants, local authorities;

- a range of actions that may reduce risk and improve the level of fire safety where deficiencies arise in dwelling houses, apartments and /or the common areas of apartment buildings; and

- a fire risk assessment methodology for professional advisors to prioritise the remedial actions, if any, that may need to be carried out on a dwelling.

The Framework is intended to be used as a guide by the owners and occupants of dwellings where fire safety deficiencies have been identified, or are a cause for concern. In addition to owners and occupants, the Framework will also be of assistance to professional advisors both in developing strategies to improve fire safety and in developing strategies to enable the continued occupation in advance of undertaking the necessary works to ensure compliance with the relevant Building Regulations.

The framework is available on my Department's website at the following link:

http://www.housing.gov.ie/sites/default/files/publications/files/framework_for_enhancing_fire_safety_in_dwellings.pdf .

It is important to note that while my Department has overall responsibility for establishing and maintaining an effective regulatory framework for building standards and building control, it has no general statutory role in resolving defects in privately owned buildings, including dwellings, nor does it have a budget for such matters. It is not possible for the State to take on responsibility/liability for all legacy issues, nor would it send the right message to the industry regarding their responsibility for compliance.

In response to the many building failures that emerged in the last decade, my Department has been advancing a building control reform agenda in order to develop and promote a culture of competence, good practice and compliance with the building regulations in the construction sector. This agenda includes:

- the introduction of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2014, which require greater accountability in relation to compliance with Building Regulations in the form of statutory certification;

- working closely with the Local Government Management Agency on the oversight and governance of the local authority Building Control System to improve its effectiveness; and

- progressing primary legislation, the Building Control (Construction Industry Register Ireland) Bill 2017.