Thursday 27 April 2017

Pyrite crisis a 'natural disaster'



THE PYRITE crisis crumbling homes across Fingal has been compared to a 'natural disaster' by Fingal's county manager who has called for a national response to the problem.

Addressing a meeting of Fingal County Council, county manager, David O'Connor, pictured, compared the crisis to a major natural disaster and said it needed more than a local response.

He suggested that Fingal establish its own Pyrite Resolution Board to bring homeowners together with the council, builders and insurers to hammer out agreements locally. He said the board could then be subsumed into a planned nationwide resolution board. In the latest figures produced by the council on the pyrite crisis, it lists, and names for the first time, 32 estates where it has knowledge of confirmed or suspected cases of pyrite. However, the numbers were slated at the meeting by several councillors who said the local authority had underestimated the problem.

It is the ' equivalent of a natural disaster' and deserves the same national response a crisis like that would get, according to Fingal's county manager. Fingal county manager, David O'Connor told a meeting of the full council this month that pyrite 'was the equivalent of a natural disaster' it was the same as a 'very serious flooding' in a county, he added. He said at the time that pyrite material was used in building estates across Fingal, nobody could have known or tested for it because it was a problem unknown to the Irish building industry.

When the crisis took a grip of the Canadian building industry, he said that Canada had established a national fund to deal with the issue and the same approach needed to be taken here. He did not favour mass testing for the mineral disease or the establishment of a register of pyrite affected properties. He said that would mean every home built between 2002 and 2007 would have to have a pyrite-free certificate before it could be sold and that would be impractical. He said that at the heart of the problem was the system of building control and self-certification which he said simply 'does not work'.

The county manager said he expected the Government to bring forward 'significant reforms' in the system soon. He said that his priority was the people now living in houses that are 'pulling themselves apart'. The county manager said the council had successfully helped negotiate settlements between residents and builders and insurers in a number of cases and wanted to engage more with residents on the issue. 'We are always available to engage with residents to see what we can do to help them resolve those issues,' he said.

He went further and suggested that contact between the council, residents and the various stakeholders in the pyrite crisis could be formalises by establishing a 'mini resolution board'. A national resolution board involving all the stakeholders is a recommendation of the Pyrite Panel set up by the Government to look into the problem but Mr. O'Connor suggested that the council should not wait for the establishment of the national body and instead go ahead and establish a Fingal Pyrite Resolution Board that could be subsumed into the national body at a later date. He said that the reason Fingal had been so badly affected in the crisis was because the quarry at the heart of the problem was located in Fingal. He concluded by saying: 'I think the State should look at this as a natural disaster and deal with it that way.'

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