I propose to take Questions Nos. 26, 39 and 46 together.
An expert panel on concrete blocks was established by my Department in April 2016 to investigate the problems that have emerged in the concrete blockwork of certain dwellings in Donegal and Mayo. The panel have the following terms of reference:-
(i) To identify, insofar as it is possible, the numbers of private dwellings which appear to be affected by defects in the blockwork in the Counties of Donegal and Mayo;
(ii) To carry out a desktop study, which would include a consultation process with affected homeowners, public representatives, local authorities, product manufacturers, building professionals, testing laboratories, industry stakeholders and other relevant parties, to establish the nature of the problem in the affected dwellings;
(iii) To outline a range of technical options for remediation and the means by which those technical options could be applied; and
(iv) To submit a report within six months.
The expert panel on concrete blocks met on twelve occasions since it was first established and a similar number of meetings have taken place with key stakeholders, including affected homeowners, the elected members of Donegal and Mayo County Councils, local authority officials, industry bodies, academics, public representatives and other interested parties. A substantial volume of information has been provided by affected homeowners in both counties, as well as from Donegal and Mayo County Councils; additional information was also provided through the consultation process.
The panel has now concluded its meetings and is in the process of finalising its report which is undergoing legal proofing, which I anticipate will be completed shortly. In this regard, I will await the outcome of the panel’s report before considering what further actions may be required to assist the parties directly involved in reaching a satisfactory resolution to the problems that have emerged in the two counties.