The Expert Panel on concrete blocks was established by my Department in 2016, to investigate problems that have emerged in the concrete blockwork of certain dwellings in Counties Donegal and Mayo.
The panel had 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.
On 13 June 2017, the report of the Expert Panel was published and included eight recommendations.
My Department has prioritised the implementation of recommendations 1 and 2.
With regard to Recommendation 1, the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) Technical Committee, established to scope and fast track the development of a standardised protocol, held its inaugural meeting on 11 September 2017 and has met several times since. The standardised protocol will inform the course of action in relation to remedial works for all affected householders.
With regard to Recommendation 2, my Department has been in contact with Engineers Ireland in regard to the establishment of a register of competent engineers for homeowner/affected parties’ reference. Engineers Ireland has provided assurance that it will collaborate with the Department, the NSAI and others on measures to establish such a register.
During July this year, I visited Donegal and Mayo and met with key stakeholders, including affected homeowners, elected members and officials of the local authorities and other interested parties. I am available to hold further meetings with key stakeholders where necessary, subject to our mutual availability and where appropriate arrangements can be made.
A final reply to the correspondence referred to by the Deputy has now issued from my Department.