New Housing Minister must publish suppressed fire safety review of boom-era houses

June 18, 2017

The new Minister for Housing must publish a fire safety report on boom era houses that the department has suppressed for over a year, Dublin Bay North Social Democrats Cllr Cian O’Callaghan said today.

Speaking as the death toll in the tragic Grenfell Tower blaze in London rose to 58, Cllr O’Callaghan said the current ‘head in the sand’ attitude to fire risks in Irish housing developments cannot continue.

Cllr O’Callaghan said:

“There are accidents waiting to happen in hundreds of housing developments up and down the country which have serious fire safety defects. Yet the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government, as well as local authorities, are turning a blind eye to the problems and letting off the hook builders who have constructed homes in breach of the fire safety regulations.

“This head in the sand attitude cannot continue. The new Minister has to take this issue in hand if we are to avoid a future Grenfell Tower type blaze in Ireland. As a first step, Minister Eoghan Murphy should publish a review that was commissioned by his department following a rapid spread fire that devastated a row of timber-framed houses in the new-build Millford Manor housing estate in March 2015.

“That review was supposed to lead to the development of a national framework to prevent similar accidents in the future in residential developments where concerns had been raised about fire safety. But the department has sat on the review for fifteen months now, and has refused repeated requests for it to be published.”

Cllr O’Callaghan added: “It is vital that the department’s review is published so that remedial work can be carried out and new controls put in place. There is a clear need for a Fire Safety remediation scheme, similar to the Pyrite Remediation Scheme, to retro-fit houses with fire safety deficiencies.

“The Minister also needs to investigate the failure of local authorities to utilise their building control powers to pursue developers who constructed homes in breach of the fire safety regulations. In the future, we need to do away with self-regulation and put in place independent building control inspection.

“In the housing estate fire in Millfield Manor in 2015, no residents were harmed because the fire broke out during daytime hours. The next time people may not be so lucky.”

Notes to Editors

  • On March 31, 2015, a fire spread rapidly destroying a terrace of six houses in half an hour in the Millfield Manor estate. According to design standards, it should take about three hours for a fire to spread that quickly. An investigation was launched by the council which found major fire safety deficiencies.
  • On September 22, 2015, the Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly, announced a review to “develop a framework for general application” in residential developments where concerns had been raised about fire safety. Read the terms of reference of the review.
  • A full 15 months after the review was completed, the Government has still not published it.

18 June 2017