I propose to take Questions Nos. 161 to 165, inclusive, together.
I have recently established the Pyrite Resolution Board under the chairmanship of Mr. John O’Connor, former Chairman of An Bord Pleanála, to oversee and ensure the effective implementation of a pyrite remediation programme for homeowners who have no alternative avenues for redress. I have also appointed four other Board members, who together with the Chairman, have the particular range of skills and experience to ensure that the public interest, and the interest of the affected homeowners, will be well served.
Following receipt of the report of the independent Pyrite Panel at the end of June 2012, my Department and I engaged in extensive discussions with the Construction Industry Federation, the Irish Concrete Federation and HomeBond resulting in their agreement to establish a not-for profit entity to operate a pyrite remediation scheme under the supervision of the Pyrite Resolution Board. I am hopeful that the entity will be established as quickly as possible and it will work closely with the Resolution Board in the delivery of an efficient and effective remediation scheme for homeowners. Appointment of Board members of the entity will be a matter for the three construction stakeholders who are setting up the entity and while staffing will also be a matter for the Board of the entity it will be the subject to discussion with the Pyrite Resolution Board.
The Insurance sector did not engage constructively with my Department and did not express any willingness to be involved in a resolution process.
My Department is engaging in preliminary discussions with a number of financial institutions facilitated by the Irish Banking Federation with a view to securing a loan facility which the not-for-profit entity would draw down to permit the earliest possible commencement of pyrite remediation works. The detailed negotiations with the prospective lenders on the terms and conditions of this facility will be concluded by the not-for-profit entity. The loan facility is intended to defray the costs of pyrite remediation work and ancillary costs only.
From information supplied to the Pyrite Panel (March 2012), it appears that, in general, the pyrite problem is confined to five local authority areas, i.e. Dublin City, Fingal, Kildare, Meath and Offaly. Seventy four (74) estates with 12,250 ground floor dwellings were identified to the Panel during the course of its work as possibly having pyrite problems. Of these dwellings, the Panel understood that approximately 1,100 dwellings have already been remediated or were in the process of being remediated at that time and approximately 850 dwellings had a claim with a guarantee provider. Taking a pessimistic view, the Panel concluded that the remaining 10,300 ground floor dwellings represented the maximum estimated future potential exposure to pyrite problems. Having regard to the robust methodology used by the Pyrite Panel in arriving at the above figures and the rate of presentation in Ireland, I believe the figures represent a reasonably accurate picture of the extent of potential exposure to the pyrite problem. However, the Panel also noted that not all dwellings in estates where pyrite has been identified will manifest pyritic damage and the reasons for this are detailed in the pyrite report.
In December, 2012 the Government approved the imposition of a levy on the quarrying and insurance sectors as a mechanism to fund a pyrite remediation scheme as recommended in the pyrite report. Primary legislation is required to underpin the imposition of the levy and my Department is currently advancing the drafting of the General Scheme of a Bill to provide for this. It is my intention that the Bill will be published and enacted in the shortest possible timeframe.
The purpose of the resolution process that my Department and I have been advancing over the latter part of 2012 is to provide cost effective remediation scheme for homeowners affected by pyrite who have no other avenues of redress. The establishment of liability is a matter for the Courts, and it is matter for homeowners themselves to decide if such a course of action is appropriate to their own particular circumstances.