A Profession Divided? Reflections on an RIAI EGM

by Bregs Blog admin team

Open Letter RIAI

The following opinion piece was one of several received from attendees of the recent RIAI EGM. The author’s identity has been verified but has has not been published for reasons respected by the BRegs Blog Admin. Team. It makes for interesting reading in advance of the RIAI AGM in the Davenport Hotel at 6 pm on Monday (29th September 2014). 

A Profession Divided? 

Reflections on an RIAI EGM

The context of the EGM held in the Davenport Hotel on 12th August 2014 was strange. The scene appeared to be set between the ‘sides’. The debate, for the most part, was reasoned and intelligent. So how could such illustrious opinion be so divided on such an important matter as new building control legislation? The answer is simple; it isn’t.

The near unanimous view among the architects attending the EGM, and any with whom I have spoken on the subject, and any opinion I have read on the subject, think that SI.9 is a terrible piece of legislation. The failings are numerous and egregious. No offence to the Department of Environment, but this is a bad piece of legislation.

Attendees at the previous EGM, held in October of last year, voted overwhelmingly to call on ‘…the President and Council to urge the Minister to amend the Regulations…’ The minutes subsequently circulated didn’t record the exact vote, but to suggest 500 to 1 would not be a wild exaggeration. This is NOT a profession divided.

So I was very surprised and, frankly, greatly annoyed to read the State Architect’s address to Council in June of this year. The BRegs Forum is destructive and unhelpful? The Profession is seen as divided and incoherent?

Among Architects, the only area where opinion is divided is how best we should proceed as a profession to have this very bad piece of legislation changed. That’s not a profession divided.

And now to my own tuppence worth; Unfortunately, I believe the reality to be very close to what the State Architect, and others, described at the EGM. The perception of architects, divided or otherwise, among legislators and the general public is not heroic. Justly or otherwise we are associated with the boom and bust and are guilty by association. We are seen as an elitist minority, if we are seen at all. If we characterise our plight as a fight against unreasonable and intolerable liability we will be seen as a self-serving elitist minority.

Pardon the cynicism for a moment; legislators will not change the law because it is the right thing to do, nor because it needs to be done, nor even because it might actually save money; legislators will change the law if that is a popular idea. I believe we need to make that idea popular.

I voted at the EGM to defer the motion because I did not want to see it narrowly defeated or narrowly passed. I do not want to give any succour to the idea that we are, in fact, divided and incoherent. The 1st reason given in the motion is the only reason we should contest this legislation; because it fails to protect the consumer and fails to ensure better building. This is the message that we should promote in a unified and, yes, coherent manner, unashamedly and unafraid of reprisal.

Other posts of interest:

‘All Ireland’ | BC(A)R Boycott

Opinion: “the architectural profession is largely united in opposition to S.I.9″

SI.9 Is Defective | RIAI EGM Consensus 

Friday Follow | Eoin O’Cofaigh FRIAI

S.I.9 and Employees: Eoin O’Morain FRIAI

S.I. 9 and Insurance Claims: Deirdre Lennon MRIAI

S.I. 9 and Construction Products: Orla Hegarty MRIAI RIBA

Vivian Cummins MRIAI: Are small architectural practices under threat from S.I.9?

Shrapnel and Spin – Caomhán Murphy MRIAI

Eoin O’Cofaigh: missed opportunity? BC(A)R SI.9

News Alert | RIAI EGM Report