New hospital wards to close over fire risk

LIKE every disaster of its kind, the Grenfell catastrophe has provoked a re-examination of the safety standards which, had they been applied and acted on when they should have been, might have averted tragedy.

Official indifference and the removal of consumer-protection measures decried as “red tape” by the nastiest Tories contributed to the fire in a way that, according to London police, may lead to manslaughter charges. They should certainly lead to sleepless nights.That court prospect may offer some small crumb of comfort to those who lost loved-ones in the inferno, but it underlines how light-touch regulation is almost pointless. When light-touch regulation is the norm and when accountability is a very loose, almost optional idea, then the seeds for disaster are sown.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that a €24m emergency department block at Letterkenny University Hospital, which opened just four years ago, faces ward closure over fire-safety concerns. The block has been flooded twice since it was opened. A flash flood in July 2013 caused €30m in damages.

Any rational person will find this hard to understand. The floods might have been exceptional events, but how can a multimillion state project fail fire-safety requirements just years after it was completed? Was the building design poor? Were shortcuts taken? Even if those questions are answered, will there be any consequences for anyone? Exactly.


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