In part 1, I described how the Govt accepted that the problem actually exists.
In Part 2, I now describe what they propose as a solution as outlined in the Report of the Expert Panel 2017.
The Govt, having accepted there is a problem now selects the expert panel that will investigate the problem..
The full composition of the Expert Panel is:
- Mr. Denis McCarthy, a civil engineer and former Director of Services and Acting County Manager with Waterford County Council. Chairperson of the Expert Panel.
- Mr. Noel Kane, BE, Dip Comp Eng, EurIng, CEng, FIEI, FIStructE, MIEAust, MACI, RconEI, member of the National Standards Authority of Ireland’s Concrete and Eurocodes Consultative Committees and the chair of their Masonry Panel and Eurocodes Masonry Subcommittee.
- Mr. Frank Lee, BE, CEng, FIEI, FConsEI nominated by the Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland.
- Mr. Dave Blaney, P.Geo, EurGeol, B.Sc., M.Sc. and Board member of the Institute of Geologists of Ireland.
This panel, to begin with, could well be considered far too close to the Govt to be seen as independent.
Next the Govt publishes the Terms of Reference for the expert panel .... (definition -- "The terms of reference (ToR) document defines all aspects of how a team will conduct an evaluation.")
The Terms of Reference announced by the Minister of State were:
(i) to identify, insofar as it is possible, the numbers of private dwellings which appear to be affected by defects in the blockwork in the Counties of Donegal and Mayo;
(ii) to carry out a desktop study, which would include a consultation process with affected homeowners, public representatives, local authorities, product manufacturers, building professionals, testing laboratories, industry stakeholders and other relevant parties, to establish the nature of the problem in the affected dwellings;
(iii) to outline a range of technical options for remediation and the means by which those technical options could be applied by the affected homeowners in a manner that delivers cost effective and satisfactory outcomes for those homeowners; and (iv) To submit a report to the Minister of State by 31 May 20161.
In (ii) it can immediately be seen that the Govt intends to restrict the investigation by allowing only a desk top study to be carried out by the expert panel.
The expert panel references this restriction by stating on page 11 of the Expert Panel Report:
The Panel conducted an evaluation of all associated technical reports and other supporting information received. It should be noted that it was not in the Panel’s remit to commission testing to verify the cause of the defects claimed in these reports.
The one thing that would have confirmed the nature/cause of the problem (detailed laboratory analysis of the crumbling blocks) was not allowed under the Govts Terms of Reference.
And so begins the Govt ' cover-up' of the real reason the blocks are crumbling in Donegal.
Unbelievably the material from the crumbled blocks will not be analysed.
Also, why did none of the Donegal Politicians, both local and national, not question this glaring deceit by the Govt. in the Terms of Reference?
Why did no one on the MAG committee not see this fundamental cover-up?
This restriction of the expert panel to a desk top study tells you, beyond argument, that the Govt already knew the real cause was Reactive Iron Sulphide Minerals but they had no intention of allowing it to be reported as they knew that would mean across the board demolitions if it was found out.
Without laboratory analysis there was no chance of identifying the real reason why the building blocks were crumbling.
The Govt had decided to restrict the findings to Mica as this could be dealt with in a cheap, nasty although ineffective solution.
Again, protection of the exchequer is seen to override everything else.
The expert panel would now give a guess (shot in the dark) that they believed the problem was caused by a rogue material in the aggregate called Mica.
Completely wrong as it turned out.
This will be looked at in Part 3.
⏩ Enda Craig is a Donegal resident and community activist.