Audit of all boom builds may fall on cost

Mooted Government plans for a national audit of all buildings and apartments constructed during the boom are likely to be rejected over concerns it will be too expensive and cause too much disruption for people living in or using the sites.

Audit of all boom  builds may fall on cost

The Department of the Environment — which ultimately has responsibility for local councils — is not in favour of the proposal by Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin.

Mr Howlin said the Longboat Quay scandal and separate fire safety issues surrounding the Rush and Lusk Educate Together national school mean a widespread fire safety audit of facilities built during the boom needs to be undertaken.

Describing the potential danger posed to the public by “lax building standards” as one of the “legacies from the poisonous period of the Celtic Tiger”, the Labour minister said “every local authority should set about ensuring there is a full audit of any apartments or buildings built during that period”.

Mr Howlin said that the wide-ranging inspection needs to take place “to ensure the residents, and all of us, that things are safe and as they should be” in facilities across the country.

While a spokesperson for Environment Minister and fellow Labour TD Alan Kelly would only say party colleague Mr Howlin’s comments have been “noted”, it is understood that his department has concerns over the cost of such a mammoth project, including costs to the councils, and the disruption it would cause to people living in or using the facilities.

The apparent Government split over Mr Howlin’s plans came as the Longboat Quay crisis again dominated the Dáil yesterday.

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions, Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald criticised Taoiseach Enda Kenny for having “very thoroughly washed your hands, or at least attempted to”, of the issue.

Ms McDonald — whose party colleague Brian Stanley is to launch a bill this morning seeking the establishment of an independent planning regulator — said Mr Kenny’s focus on the “malpractice of the past” is “not good enough” for people living in potentially dangerous buildings such as Longboat Quay.

Residents at Longboat Quay have warned they will launch legal action on Friday if the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) and the receiver do not increase the offer to cover the remedial works.

A delegation of five residents’ representatives met Mr Kelly yesterday and made it clear that they were not in a position to foot a bill of between €2m and €2.5m, which must be sourced by November 1 to prevent a fire safety notice kicking into action. Such a notice would progress towards the evacuation of 299 apartments.

They said the DDDA and the receiver for the development company Gendsong should be pressured to pay the balance of the cost of the repair work.

The DDDA and the receiver have already pledged €2.75m, although €1.25m of this was spent on the first phase of the works.

“The DDDA is the owner of the development and we have strong legal advice to this effect,” the representatives said in a statement after their half-hour meeting with the minister.

“We are also aware that the receiver owns 18 apartments in the development. The money that could be realised from these 18 apartments could pay in full the cost of the works required.”

Meanwhile, it also emerged yesterday that junior minister Kevin Humphries had consulted gardaí on the possibility of pursuing a criminal investigation into the construction at Longboat Quay.

Mr Humphries, who is a local TD for the residents, visited Pearse Street Garda Station over the weekend on the matter, and offered to submit a statement if required.

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