DfC residential safety director aware of defective block cases in Derry

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The deputy director of the Department for Communities’ residential building safety division has confirmed it is aware of cases of defective blocks in the Derry area.

Frances Donnelly was asked about mica-affected blocks and reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) by West Tyrone MLA Daniel McCrossan during a briefing of the Stormont Communities committee.

"For the record, do you have any numbers in front of you on declared traces of mica or RAAC in properties in any constituencies across NI?” asked the SDLP representative.

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Ms. Donnelly replied: “So far, we are aware of some cases in social housing in the direction of Derry, which have been remediated, and of one other case.”

A home affected by mica blocks in Donegal.A home affected by mica blocks in Donegal.
A home affected by mica blocks in Donegal.

The senior civil servant was speaking during a discussion of new defective premises legislation proposed at Stormont.

Mr. McCrossan asked if DfC was engaging with Derry City & Strabane District Council about a register established last year to allow citizens report suspected defective blocks containing mica, pyrite or pyrrhotite.

“Finally — this is important — what engagement have you had with councils about the work they are doing locally to identify traces of mica or RAAC in defective properties across those council areas?

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"For instance, DC&SDC has a programme that welcomes people to register such concerns. Has the Department had any communication with councils? If not, why not and will you do so in future?” he asked.

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Ms Donnelly said she would come back to Mr. McCrossan on whether the Department had had correspondence or any engagement.

"We respond to everything that comes to us about mica,” she said.

To this Mr. McCrossan stated: “My concern, Frances — if you will indulge me briefly, Chair — is that every answer to every question for written answer that I have submitted to the Department has stated that the Department is not aware of any traces of mica or RAAC in properties across Northern Ireland, with the exception of the ones that you have mentioned.

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"However, I am aware of cases of mica and traces of RAAC in my constituency and neighbouring ones, and Derry City and Strabane District Council has been notified of same. Is the Department just not doing the necessary work to identify such cases in defective premises?”

Ms. Donnelly replied: “Not at all, Daniel.”

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