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Deputy Joe Carey has received confirmation of pyrite in a significant public building in Clare which is in the ownership of the OPW.

Pyrite confirmed in ‘significant’ public building in Clare

PYRITE has been confirmed a significant public building in Clare, owned by the Office of Public Works (OPW). 

Deputy Joe Carey tabled a number of Parliamentary Questions (PQ) in relation to public buildings with defective concrete blocks and to-date has received just one response. That came, last week, from the Minister of State with responsibility for the OPW, Patrick O’Donovan. 

While the identity of the building in question was not disclosed, it is understood to be in the south of the county.

“Pyrite has been detected in one building in the ownership of the Office of Public Works (OPW)  in County Clare,” Minister O’Donovan stated in this reply.

“A routine inspection earlier this year raised concerns in respect to cracking observed in the external façade. The OPW appointed external consultants to investigate the cause of this cracking and the consultants report has confirmed the presence of pyrite in the external leaf of the building.”

The minister’s response said that “further in-depth testing is currently underway” to determine the extent of the issue. Minister O’Donovan said that when the results of these additional investigations are underway, the OPW will assess the remediation options available. He also gave an assurance as to the safety of the building, which accommodates a number of employees of the State and is regularly used by the public.

“Based on the professional advice to date, the building is safe to occupy,” the minister said. “The situation is being closely monitored with regular inspections scheduled.”

The OPW manages more than 2,000 properties all over Ireland. Its website notes that properties range “from important buildings such as Dublin Castle to Garda stations and government offices”.

To-date, there is no scheme to fund works to public buildings, social housing or holiday homes with defective blocks. Legislation for a new defective concrete blocks grant scheme is due to be presented to the Oireachtas shortly.

Deputy Carey said that it was essential that the scheme provide adequate support to homeowners in a transparent and prompt manner. He added that funding is also needed to address pyrite in local authority homes and in public buildings. 

‘The new scheme has to be really comprehensive,” he said. “It should be open to Clare and all other counties and be an all-Ireland scheme. Pyrite has been unequivocally proven in social housing units in Clare. It is obvious that there is pyrite in public buildings too. These issues also need to be addressed.”

Deputy Carey, who first raised the issue of pyrite in Clare in 2018, described progress to help homeowners here as “extremely slow and extremely frustrating”. “There are some positive soundings about the new scheme, but the devil will be in the detail,” he said. “The scheme must be transparent and fit for purpose and help those homeowners who, through no fault of their own, are in a very difficult situation.”

In relation to the drafting of the legislation to underpin the new scheme, Deputy Carey said that he favoured a consultative process of pre-legislative scrutiny. “There were fears that from the Clare and Mayo action groups that the scheme might be introduced through a Statutory Instrument,” he noted.

“The Taoiseach confirmed to me that it will be done through primary legislation. Micheál Martin also warned of delays if there is to be pre-legislative scrutiny, but I would favour that process. There is a commitment to get the legislation through before the summer recess which is only around six weeks away, so that is a very tight time-frame.”

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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