Lessons learned following the Grenfell Tower fire in London have not filtered into Ireland, according to Professor Orla Hegarty of the school of architecture in University College Dublin. She told RTÉ radio’s Today with Sean O’Rourke show that there is still no ban on combustible materials in Ireland. “We shouldn’t be waiting for events to happen to trigger a response.”

There is a need to heed the warnings from events like the tragic fire in Grenfell Tower and the balcony collapse in Berkeley, California in which six students died, she added. Professor Hegarty said the 2014 Building Control (Amendment) Regulations, enacted in response to the serious structural defects found in Dublin’s Priory Hall development, are “not fit for purpose”. There is a central flaw with the legislation, she claimed, which is that the assigned certifier is appointed and paid for by the developer and is only required to do the amount of inspection the developer asks for. “There’s no requirement in law as to how many inspections are carried out, they could do one at the very end or they could do one every week, it depends on the certifier. If the person doing the inspections is not doing what the developer wants then they can replace them,” she told The Irish Times in an interview in March 2019. There needed to be an independent inspection system, where certifiers have the authority to change how things are being built if they see a flaw in it. At the moment, Professor Hegarty said, certifiers can only complain to the developer, they cannot force them to change anything. Certifiers are also compromised by the fact that they are paid by the developer.

Denise Maguire
Irish Construction Industry Magazine