Minister Hogan’s departure- Does this mean somebody can now shout STOP?

by Bregs Blog admin team


The following piece was prepared as a letter to the editor by a contributor on 6th July 2014.

Does this mean somebody can now shout STOP?

On Friday 4th July 2014 the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government (DECLG) published a 54-page list of Minister Phil Hogan’s achievements itemising the “sheer amount of issues which the Minister has presided over”. This report was accompanied by speculation from a DECLG spokesperson about Hogan’s future place of employment claiming that he “was unlikely to be returning to the Department either way”. It sounded like an ambiguous reference from an employer who is happy to see an employee leave.

Minister Hogan could prove to be a very handy scapegoat to the officials in the DECLG as the debacle of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations, introduced on 1st March 2014, becomes more apparent with each passing day. “It was all Minister Hogan’s fault, he wouldn’t listen,” they may be able to claim. However it would be unfair to put the blame solely on the Minister when so many senior officials in the Department are equally responsible for its introduction. They too should be held accountable for its shortcomings and the fact that it is proving so difficult to implement in practice.

Minister Phil Hogan sought to resolve the two big ‘P’ problems, Pyrite and Priory Hall, which his Department faced. His intentions were admirable i.e. better building and better protection for the consumer and they are ones that the public share. Unfortunately the DECLG did not know how to make it happen. They were too preoccupied with finding a solution that had a zero cost to the Exchequer. Penny wise, pound foolish.

Judging from the published legislation, the DECLG’s public consultation process on the proposed Building Control Regulations seems to largely have ignored the 500+ submissions received from a wide range of stakeholders. Any external stakeholder involvement was limited to confidential negotiations with certain construction related professional bodies such as the CIF, SCSI, RIAI and ACEI; groups that could be perceived as having a vested interest. Remarkably relevant bodies such as the Law Society and Competition Authority were overlooked. It seems as if the new Building Control regulations were drafted by administrators who were not actually involved with building or its control at any practical level. Unfortunately the result means that the Pyrite and Priory Hall type problems are still with us and these are likely to cost the DECLG when deficiencies are identified after the next wave of housing construction..

The question now is not when, but how SI.9 can be revoked without loosing face. Minister Phil Hogan’s departure to Brussels may present a perfect opportunity for the DECLG to bring about the required change in mindset on this issue and allow a new Minister to change our building control system that is clearly not fit for purpose. Whether it is a face-saving exercise by blaming Deputy Hogan T.D. or an admission of errors made by all involved, including the professional bodies that were consulted, Irish citizens deserve it and they deserve it soon.

The departure of Minister Hogan may be just the “get out of jail” card for a coalition under pressure.

See press piece here on Minister Hogan’s departure for EU.

Other posts of interest:

How to complete ghost estates + Priory Hall?:BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

Lessons of Priory Hall were not learned in the creation of new Building Control Regulations – click link here

Senator Paschal Mooney, Minister Hogan and Seanad debate – click link here

Pyrite & SI.9- what happens now?  – click link here

Architectural Technologist: Minister “disrespectful and misleading” in Seanad – click link here

Minister Hogan concerned at exploitation by professionals: BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

Government Reports & Professional Opinion Ignored in S.I.80 – click link here

The regulations ignore key recommendations of the Pyrite Panel – click linkhere

Legal perspective: consumer benefit? BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here

Clear and auditable trail: consumer protection? BC(A)R SI.9 – click link here