Building ‘regulation’

The scale of the Grenfell Tower disaster — at least 30 confirmed dead but as many as another 50 still missing — is frightening. It must lead to renewed concerns over building standards and the role some materials may have played in turning an apartment building into a deadly inferno.

We have been lucky in Ireland — we have not had to deal with such loss of life in similar circumstances, which by many accounts, was entirely avoidable. We have, however, had to deal with defective, unsafe buildings and, in at least one instance, at considerable cost to the public purse. Very valid concerns are sharpened by the fact that insulating materials blamed for the rapid spread of the Grenfell fire are widely used in Ireland. Foam insulation like that used in London is manufactured and used here.

This tragedy speaks to a recurring theme — the failure of regulators to do the job they are expected to do. There may be many reasons for this but the winners and losers are always the same. Surely it’s time we realised that under-resourced supervisory agencies are a dangerous waste of money?

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