Expert group to investigate Mica blocks in Donegal

Minister Coffey visited Inishowen earlier this year.
Minister Coffey visited Inishowen earlier this year.

An expert group is to be set up to investigate the problems which have emerged in concrete blockwork in certain homes and premises in Donegal and Mayo, thought to be caused by Mica.

The news was announced by Mr. Paude Coffey, T.D., Minister with Responsibility for Housing, Planning and Coordination of the Construction 2020 Strategy, who said the expert group will also be established in order to assist the parties directly involved in reaching a satisfactory resolution to their difficulties.

Minister Joe McHugh welcomed the Minister’s statement.

He said: “I have been working closely with the MICA Action Group and the Minister to drive the establishment of an expert panel. I have had almost weekly meetings with the Minister to ensure this happened as quickly as possible and the same delay that we saw happening with those affected by Pyrite did not happen again.

“The Minister has confirmed that arrangements are now underway to identify a suitable candidate to chair the expert group, where nominations will be sought from a number of professional bodies for suitable persons to participate on the group which it is envisaged will comprise no more than technical experts.”

Minister Coffey stated: “I am acutely aware of the extremely difficult and distressing situations that affected homeowners in Donegal and Mayo are facing on account of damage to the structural integrity of their homes having visited a number of homes in Donegal earlier this year.

“ While building defects are in the first instance, matters for resolution between the relevant contracting parties, i.e. the homeowner, the builder, the supplier and/or their respective insurers, I propose to set up a small expert group, with a strong technical background, to establish, insofar as it is possible, the number of affected dwellings in Donegal and Mayo, the root cause of the problems and the technical solutions for remediation.”

Both Minister McHugh and Minister Coffey acknowledged the hard and vital work of the MICA Action Group, including providing a number of technical reports to the Department earlier this year to provide a scientific insight into the problems that have emerged in the affected dwellings in north Donegal.

The expert group will have the following terms of reference: To identify, in so far 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; 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;to outline a range of technical options for remediation and the means by which those technical options could be applied; and to submit a report to the Minister of State by 31 May 2016.

“I look forward to continue working closely with Minister Paudie Coffey now in establishing the expert panel as soon as possible so that they can get to work and report back by 31st May 2I ,” concluded Minister McHugh