Defective home-owners still left in ‘no-man’s land’

Empty promises only from Housing Minister claim stressed families

by Rose Barrett
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Rose Barrett

It’s almost six months now since Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien announced that emergency funding and interim measures would be put in place to tackle defective homes built during the self-regulation era in construction. But to date, over 100,000 apartments and duplexes with fire defects remain in ‘cuckoo land’ claim Dublin couple Odette and Sam Doran of the Crescent, Park West.

In December last, Minister O’Brien stated that a 100 per cent redress scheme would be provided, and gave assurances that emergency funding/measures would be set up until the scheme is up and running.

“And here we are now, still nothing done to help us,” said Odette. “We have engaged with a new fire engineering company to do a second survey of our building as the first one wasn’t detailed enough. We will be ready to commence works on a safe escape route, in the event of a fire breaking out. These works alone are going to cost approximately €300k – we need the emergency funding to make our building safe!

“We held a press conference in Buswell’s in recent weeks (see photo above), held a protest afterwards outside the Dáil. In fact, we have been protesting outside the Dáil every Wednesday with Not Our Fault Campaign and will continue to do so every week, until the Minister has emergency funding in place!”

She continued: “We are the ones experiencing the financial and stressful consequences of the government dragging its heels on this urgent matter. Our management fees have gone up to cover the new fire alarm, our ESB bills have gone through the roof, mortgage rates have gone up – and we are expected to raise a fortune ourselves to make our building safe?

Sam and Odette above outside the Dáil with Deputy Patrick Costello

Odette has written to the Department of Housing and in response, a spokesperson for the Minister stated: “The Working Group the Minister established to examine defects in housing, recognised that interim measures will be required in certain cases pending the implementation of full remedial works.  In this regard, the Minister encourages Owners’ Management Companies to engage the services of competent fire safety professionals to determine and prioritise interim remedial work necessary from a life safety point of view pending the implementation of full remedial works. Such works should be agreed with local authority fire services.”

The Dorans supported by Senator Mark Wall outside the Dáil

Odette added: “So we have emailed the Minister to clarify where do we apply for this emergency funding as we have engaged a competent fire engineering company to prioritise works and they have been in contact with the fire officer! We have done all this, as required. We are ready to go but we feel the Minister certainly isn’t.  All we are getting are empty promises! The lack of urgency shown by the Minister and his department is depressing and of great concern to us.”

Despite support from Senators Mary Seery Kearney, Mark Wall and Timmy Dooley, Deputies Eoin O Brion, Patrick Costello, Ivana Bacik and Paul Murphy and many others, Odette concluded: “None of them can understand why the Minister hasn’t set this up emergency funding. Last week, he suggested removing construcition levies – wonderful, it was builders cutting corners during the self-regulation period that landed us in this mess!”

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