Report Reveals Structural Shortcomings Of Profit-Driven Construction

A call for a full risk assessment of properties built between 2000 and 2014 has been made by members of Dublin Fire Brigade after the publication of a report by one of Ireland’s largest property management companies. The Keenan Property Management report was commissioned in response to the Grenfell inferno in London which killed 72 people. The report found outdated and inadequate fire alarms and fire-stopping measures were commonplace in ‘almost all’ of the 60 apartment complexes it examined, with the lack of appropriate compartmentation being of particular concern.

The bulk of these developments were built during the Celtic Tiger period when developers were able to ‘self-regulate’ their compliance with fire safety regulations. The ability of on-site foremen to sign-off on phases of construction work while at the same time being under pressure to keep the construction cycle on schedule was a fundamental flaw in ensuring proper adherence to fire safety. The responsibility for this deregulation lies at the door of successive Dublin governments and their light-touch approach to the entire construction sector.

Recent media reports have also revealed that 75% of proposals by Dublin Fire Brigade to impose additional fire-safety conditions during planning were rejected at the behest of the developers.

Cathaoirleach Éirígí, Brian Leeson, has said that these latest revelations highlight the inherent inability of the private sector to deliver affordable, safe homes and other buildings for our people. “The KPM report confirms one of the worst kept secrets of the private construction sector, that corners are systematically and routinely cut in the interest of maximizing profit. The report echoes the findings of last years investigation by the Department of Education into school buildings built during the Celtic Tiger.

It is almost beyond belief that up to 80% of the apartment complexes that KPM examined were found to have fire-safety failings. If a similar percentage of all properties built during the Celtic Tiger are similarly flawed we are facing into a major new scandal.

Éirígí supports the call for a systematic examination of all buildings that were built during the era of self-regulation across the housing, retail, commercial, leisure and other sectors.”

Leeson continued, “The abandonment of home building to the mercy of private developers was always going to lead to the problems that we are seeing today. The need to maximise safety and the desire to maximise profit are contradictory objectives. Leaving the responsibility to deliver both in the hands of a private developer was never going to end well.

Only a well-funded, well planned and well-resourced programme of universal public housing, using a new state construction vehicle, can eliminate these recurring safety problems and house our people in sustainable, ecological and well-designed buildings from where fully mixed and inclusive communities can take root and grow.”