Solidarity with people living in defectively-built homes
Expressing her solidarity with the ‘Not Our Fault’ campaign’s 24-hour protest outside Leinster House today, Labour Leader and Housing Spokesperson Ivana Bacik TD echoed their calls for funding for fire safety measures in apartment complexes affected by fire safety defects.
In the Dáil this afternoon, she said:
“Today, campaigners who live in homes with construction defects are outside Leinster House, staging a 24-hour protest. They are calling for immediate provision of Government funding for interim fire safety measures, while we await a remediation works scheme coming into effect.
“It is thought that as many as 100,000 Celtic Tiger-era homes have construction defects, which poses a risk to those thousands of families living in them. These people not only have to live with safety concerns for them and their loved ones but also face unaffordable bills to make their homes safe.
“It bears repeating that the safety concerns in their homes arose through no fault of their own.
“I pay tribute to the campaigns of the Not Our Fault group and the Construction Defects Alliance. On foot of those campaigns, the Housing Minister made commitments to resolve the problem. They are right to continue their activism to ensure that he makes good on his word.
“One issue which is anxiously anticipated by those living in unsafe Celtic Tiger-era homes is the new Fire Safety Code of Practice.
“The code is expected to recommend better fire alarms and safety equipment, in advance of a remediation scheme being put in place. For instance, all of these homes should have state of the art bedroom fire alarms. It is a horrible thought that a fire should break out in any person’s home. However, for those living in homes which are at a heightened risk, it is vital that they have the necessary equipment to ensure early warning systems, 24/7.
“It is vital that the Government publishes the draft Code of Practice before the Dáil and Seanad rise next month. Moreover, it is of utmost importance that it is acted upon without delay. The Minister must set up a Temporary Administrative Scheme – under the Housing Agency – to enable the roll-out of Code’s recommendations. Significant work has already gone into making sure that funds are in place for these measures to be put in place this year. We must see the measures implemented immediately.
“Those steps are needed as we await the publication of legislation for a remediation scheme. However, the broader picture must not be lost on this either. That scheme must be put in place within the lifetime of this Government. It is just too important to wait.
“Prompted by emails from constituents, I wrote to Minister O’Brien back in March, seeking assurances that those who have already paid out-of-pocket for remediation works, at huge personal expense, will receive retrospective payments, even where they went on to sell the property. In reply, the Minister told me that “costs already incurred…will be covered.” However, recent reports in the Irish Times indicate that there is resistance to providing retrospective payments from some in his Department.
“We need to see cast-iron confirmation that the scheme will be inclusive of everyone. Some of those who have contacted my office have had to cut back on daily essentials, or have been faced with the decision not to pursue further education, on account of the massive bills they have had to pay. In a cost-of-living crisis, that is intolerable for any family. It is only right that they should be compensated, along with everyone else affected. A home should be a safe place.”