Notes from a full meeting of Cork County Council, 12th October 2015

1.  Minutes of Meeting of the Council held on 28th September, 2015.

Cllrs Lombard and Hurley proposed and seconded.


[b]           VOTES OF SYMPATHY
2.  Votes of Sympathy (if any) to the relatives of:

  • members or employees of the Council,
  • dignitaries of Church or State, or
  • members of old I.R.A. and Cumann na mBan.

Cllrs expressed their sympathies for Cllr Cullinane on the death of her mother.

Cllrs expressed their sympathies for those who were affected by the Carrickmines tragedy and for the family of Garda Tony Golden.



3.  Disposal of Property
Section 183 of the Local Government Act, 2001:

(a).  Disposal of 28 Pairc Na Greine, Dromahane, Mallow, Co. Cork.

Blarney Macroom Municipal District: 24th September, 2015:

(b).  Disposal of 23 Barretts Place, Macroom, Co. Cork.
(c).  Disposal of land at Milleeny, Coolea, Macroom, Co. Cork.
(d).  Disposal of 1 St. Mary’s Terrace, Coolduff, Kilmurray, Lissarda, Co. Cork.

Proposed and seconded.

East Cork Municipal District: 6th July, 2015:

(f).  Disposal of serviced site at 66 Knockaverry, Youghal, Co. Cork.

Proposed and seconded.

East Cork Municipal District: 2nd June, 2015:

(g).  Disposal of Lands at Knockgriffin, Midleton to Blackpool Developments Ltd.

Proposed and seconded.




  1. Corporate Policy Group: 

October Conference List
Approval of attendance by Council members at Conferences on the Conference List for October, 2015 approved by the Corporate Policy Group at their meeting on the 6th of October, 2015.

Proposed and seconded.


European Affairs Committee
Approval to Cllr Deirdre Forde becoming a member of the European Affairs Committee.

Proposed and seconded.


Civic Receptions Protocol
Approval to revised Civic Receptions Protocol

Proposed and seconded.


  1. West Cork Municipal District:
    “Following the extensive damage to the road network of West Cork, as a result of the recent bad weather events, that emergency funding would be made available to carry out necessary repairs and resurfacing work”.

Response to Western Committee motion
Estimate of damage cost for Western Committee

Cllr Carroll (FF): Motion as written is wrong. We are dealing with 5 engineers in West Cork. The roads in rural West Cork are now at crisis level. The engineers are straight and honourable people. But they say they don’t have the money to remedy a road in bad repair. Local Property Tax won’t fill potholes. The roads contribution from the government has been cut by up to 50% in the last 5 years. 6 or 7 months ago we got a presentation from the IFA about how they were going to expand milk production in Cork County by 50%. This will entail major rural traffic. The roads are not fit to take this extra traffic. They are not fit to take even traffic as it stands now. Mostly those who say the roads are not fit are those who drive trucks to the factories. Am proposing that this Council writes immediately to the Minister to seek extra funding for the roads in West Cork. If we got only a small section of road tax back it would help.

Cllr M Collins (Ind): Supports the motion. The motion as worded is very much in relation to recent storms and devastation to the roads. The report received from the Council relates to the peninsulas. Two roads on the Mizen peninsula have been closed since the storm and haven’t reopened. When other counties seek emergency funding they get it. Sadly West Cork doesn’t seem to be on the map. There was an announcement by Minister Harris over the last few days about extra funding for roads. The Council has totted up the cost of the damage. It came to €2.3m. There is a massive shortfall. When are the two roads on the Mizen going to reopen?

Cllr Murphy O’Mahony (FF): Concurs with the motion. It comes down to lack of money. The engineers’ hands are tied. Even the postmen say they can’t deliver on some roads. Milk lorries say they will stop collecting soon. At crisis point now. We are on the Wild Atlantic Way. Roads are hindering tourism in the area. Government needs to step up and provide funding.

Cllr R McCarthy (SF): The roads are not fit for purpose in West Cork. Heavy rainfall is said to be unprecedented. Don’t think we can say this any more. We live in a country where there is heavy rain often. We need proactive funding, not reactive. The Wild Atlantic Way – no point in erecting signs if there are no roads to travel on.

Cllr A Moynihan (FF): Supports call for funding. But these issues there well before the recent flooding. There is a clear need for additional funding. Wants to ensure that any funding that is received will also go to roads that are in South Cork area that were damaged after this flooding. Also flood defence works that are not being progresssed in places like Ballyvourney, Inchigeela. Planning has been advanced but it is not happening on the ground. The recent flooding highlighted this also.

Cllr Coleman (Ind): Supports. Of the €2.3m worth of damage, €1.9m occurred in the Western region. Imperative that we get this money as soon as possible to have the roads ready for the winter. County roads are the Cinderella of funding. Hopes budget will deliver large increase in funding to county roads.

Cllr Hurley (Ind): Supports. But we are still dealing with another issue that goes back to 2009 when the county was then also ravaged by floods. Our waterways are completely choked up. They haven’t got the capacity they had 20 years ago. There are bridges around the county a man in his 80s could walk under when he was young. Now they are so full of silt he no longer can. The OPW, Inland Fisheries and Parks and Wildlife need to maintain the waterways.

Cllr Creed (FG): Thanks the engineer in the Macroom area for getting the estimate of costs together. On the flood defence in Macroom – is sure work will go ahead.

Cllr K Murphy (FG): Yes, huge damage was done in West and South Cork by the torrential rain. Drainage has been static over 20 years. No drainage works worth talking about have taken place. Drainage is critical to ensure water drains properly and falls off the public road. Councillors here who were complaining this morning about availability of funding. Last year, 10% of LPT was cut. This year, 5% was cut. FF was looking for a 15% reduction.

CE: The situation is so grave that we require funding from the Department. Some of the coastal protection works should be funded by the OPW. There is a shortfall in relation to storm damage of €2.1m. €475k was spent ourselves on immediate cleanups. Our capacity to go beyond this is severely restricted. We got national government assistance after the storms in 2014. Hope for the same now. In relation to the two specific roads that are closed, can’t say when the works will be complete. We are progressing designs so that we can go to tender as soon as the funding becomes available. But you are looking at a couple of months.

Agreed that we will write to the Department.



6.  Department of Social Protection:
Letter dated 18th September, 2015, in response to Council’s letter dated 16th September, 2015, regarding the Rural and Urban Works Scheme.



[f]            NOTICES OF MOTION

7.  Councillor Deirdre Forde:
“The CE give a written comprehensive report on why the Roundabout entrance to Maryborough Ridge  Maryborough Hill has not yet been commissioned.  What is the current status of the planning, the date of the original planning for this site, outline any discussions between Nama or its agents in relation to the current situation, and any potential School site, or through road.  Further clarify which agency has recently carried out investigations on the site and on whose behalf.”

Response to Forde’s motion

Cllr Forde (FG): Thanks the Mayor and CE for keeping this on the agenda. This issue must go down in the top ten of Cork County Council as failing spectacularly in a number of ways. Doesn’t blame the Council, but the Council must be seen to act on it. Planning permission was granted in 2006. Conditions laid down were not completed. Disgrace to the planning system. Economic circumstances brought a halt to construction in the last decade. Aware that Coucil officials said their hands were tied and they had to grant an extension to permission. What about bonds that are in place? Has Andrew Hind met with the receiver? Wants this file to go to the Minister if there has been no movement on this. A school is to go on this site. But while we wait, 48 new pupils were taken on this year in prefabs. Options are expected to be formalised in relation to access to the N28. Wants copy of this to go to PAC because believes it is such an example of bad planning.

Cllr McGrath (FF): Supports. This is an issue that has been debated over the years. Represents a failure of the planning process. Conditions of planning were not adhered to. 200 units in the estate are occupied. Many residents living there bought into a vision which has not been delivered. The roundabout is partially delivered. There is no indication of when it will be complete.

Cllr D’Alton (Ind): Strongly supports. Not wishing to take from the seriousness of the Maryborough Ridge situation but there is an estate in Passage West in an identical situation. Harbour Heights was built by the same developer, it is also only partially built and the promised roundabout at its entrance has never been constructed. The roundabout was in the plans. It was clear the developer was to deliver. But the developer said so much had been given in planning contributions towards roads that it was the job of the Council to deliver the roundabout. It is an indictment of the planning process that Council could not force this issue. Agrees that the issue should be referred to the PAC.

CE: This is not a failure of the planning process. Cork County Council has done what it could. We have stuck with what we could. The developer did not comply with the planning conditions. Economic circumstances brought a halt to construction. The site is under the contol of a receiver. The Planning Department is in contact with the receiver and is trying to finalise the roundabout. The roundabout is on private land. The receiver has responsibility for construction of this. We will progress it as far as we can through our planning legislation to ensure it is completed. Doesn’t agree that it should go to the PAC. They don’t have a role in this. But it is high on our agenda and is relevant to other estates also. We will do everything we can to ensure that it is completed. We need the receivers and those in control of the site to do the works. It is on private land.

Cllr Forde: Very disappointed with the response. Doesn’t give any comfort to us. Still insists that a note should go to the Departments. The PAC seems to be able to get publicity around particular issues. Is open to suggestions in relation to that. There is no bond. Did the reciver came into this building to meet with the local representatives of the Municipal District? Could the reciver meet with the local councillors? We need to move this further. Have been hearing the same story for the last 10 years. Understands that it is not necessarily the Council’s fault.

CE: Glad to hear that is recognised. Will write to the receiver asking that they would meet with the Municipal District if that is required. Still not sure about the relevance of the PAC. Can write to the Ministers expressing concern of Council in relation to non-compliance with the works by a reciever.

Agreed that we would do this.


8.  Councillor Des O’Grady:
“To request a written report on the current situation regarding the number of private landlords receiving extra payments from  Housing Assistance Payment recipients  in County Cork. This report to also focus on the number of HAP recipients ‘Topping Up’ rent by payments from their own incomes due to the difference in rent demanded and the Local Authority payment limit allowed for HAP. The number of HAP recipients ‘Topping Up’ and the areas of the County where they live to be given by Municipal District. The Report to also provide the background to the introduction of the system of permitting and recording ‘Top Up’ payments, a change from the DoECLG position of not allowing these payments at the time of the introduction of the HAP scheme.” 

Response to O’Grady’s motion

Cllr O’Grady (SF): There are only 5 units in Ballincollig to rent at present. There is a massive shortage of rental properties. The maximum rent supplement is €750. The top up payment is €350 per month on top of rent they are paying to the Council. So the landlord is scoring on the double. Under the rent supplement scheme, Threshold found 44% of rent supplement tenants were topping up payments. This affects their ability to provide home heating and clothing. It means the tenants fall into rent arrears. This was never announced as being permitted by the Minister. The Minister is himself a landlord. The government must acknowledge that the only way to solve the housing crisis is to build social houses, limit future rent increases, target rent increase in rent supplement.

Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF): The problem with the HAP scheme is the caps which do not reflect the reality at all. There is a housing crisis in Metropolitan Cork which is not being recognised by Dublin based TDs. Notes that the number of HAP sign ups is very low in the Ballincollig-Carrigaline Municipal District. People are choosing between topping up and living. Represented one family that moved from Carrigaline to Kealkil. Another that moved from Ballincollig to Ballyvourney. We need to write to the Department seeking the flexibility that is provided in Dublin.

Cllr Mullane (SF): The report from the executive is indefensible. Alan Kelly is giving us €80m not so long ago. Knows the figure for tenants topping up is more than 6 in the Kanturk area. Out of the 669, how many were inspected to date? Are these 669 people are living in substandard accommodation?

Cllr Creed (FG): There are many good landlords out there and if we haven’t good landlords we will have big trouble. Accepts that there are some that are not up to scratch. Explains HAP. The local authority simply administers the scheme and makes the payment to the landlord. The HAP scheme provides people with more dignity and a better standard of living than does rent supplement.

Cllr K McCarthy (Ind): Agrees with Cllr O’Grady about report being damning. A house building programme is the only way to address this. People are terrified they will be put on the street unless they top up the rents. In doing so, their children are going hungry, their bills are not being paid. Not surprised that Minister Kelly is a landlord.

Cllr O’Keeffe (FF): Thinks there should be more time for implementation of HAP.  There is a shortage of houses in the Mitchelstown area. There are many landlords who don’t look after their properties. Tenants are taking the substandard houses because they have nowhere else to go. Thinks we should allow for transition period for implementation of HAP until decent properties are available.

Cllr R McCarthy (SF): The report is an admission that the HAP scheme isn’t working. Tbere is huge demand for rental property. Friend went to view a house recently. 20+ families at an open viewing. If you need HAP, you can’t compete. The rental market is becoming a bidding war. Rental caps that are set are not adequate. We need a rent review with urgency.

CE: The report is extensive. There is a challenge in continuing the success of the HAP scheme when we don’t have flexibility in relation to rental levels. That flexibility was extended to South Dublin County Council. We are making the same case for the flexiblity to be extended to Metropolitan Cork. Expects the flexibility will extend countrywide in due course but doesn’t know when.

Cllr O’Grady (SF): Wasn’t critical of the local authority. This is government policy coming home to roost. Didn’t speak disparagingly of landlords. The only way to address this is to put the local authority back in charge of the capital scheme of building houses. We need rent certainty. Topping up used to be illegal; it has now been made a certainty.


9.  Councillor Seamus McGrath:
“To seek a written report outlining the timeframe and process for the next Countywide Speed Limit review.” 

Response to McGrath’s motion

Cllr McGrath (FF): Thanks the executive for the report. Wanted an update on the speed limit review because 2017 seems very far away.

Cllr A Moynihan (FF): Seconds the motion. The review is well overdue. The recent pilot was a good start but its only a pilot. It shouldn’t be confused with the countywide review. The public is asking about the lower speed limits, especially outside schools, etc. Absence of training should not become a road block. We have to clarify where the at-risk locations are. We know where these are from our Municipal Districts. Can the CE clarify about the 7m wide issue? That is a situation where potentially a pinch point for a bridge could affect an entire stretch of road. Common sense should prevail.

Cllr O’Flynn (FF): The road safety authority needs to get the message across that one must drive in accordance with the conditions which the road offers. Tourists coming to Ireland may not be aware of local road conditions. The period for the change is far too long.

Cllr K Murphy (FG): Local speed limit review should be more flexible giving allowance to areas where there are serious issues. Too long to wait until 2017. Thinks we should have this autonomy.

CE: The guidelines came out earlier this year. There are some interpretation issues to be sorted out first. Interpretation relates to the guidelines. The guidelines require a blanket limit of 80km to be attached to roads with any 7m width. So we need to clarify all this. We will start the process with informal notification to the agencies that are involved. This will give Members an opportunity to get involved. We have to deal with any changes as part of our byelaws and this takes time. Also not addressed is that a strict interpretation of the byelaws takes significant resources which will reuqire funding. Will start by notifying Members of this process on 23rd October.

Cllr McGrath (FF): Welcomes that the process is to start in the coming weeks. This gives us an opportunity to highlight the issue.


10.  Councillor Ian Doyle:
“In view of the 2015 Graduate Recruitment Campaign for the Irish Civil Service, that Cork County Council would seek to lift the employment embargo in order that they could employ front line staff to help administer the many services provided and required by our Municipal Districts.”

Cllr Doyle (FF): We are a year and half into the Municipal District organisation. Is very proud of the Municipal Districts and thinks they are working. But they need to have the tools to make sure that as a result of our meetings we can see the work on the ground. We have a town development fund and knows the CE has a proposal to enhance the entrances to the county towns in our area. All this requires men and work. The water leakage programme is subcontracted from Irish Water. All this is being administered by staff who are so stretched on the ground. Commends the staff and the executive for doing what they do. The TUS and Gateway schemes are critical. Speaks of one road in Charleville serving 3 schools. Needs a traffic warden but is told cannot have one because of recruitment embargo. Believes in the Municipal District approach but we need to be seen to do the work on the ground.

Cllr O’Flynn (FF): Supports. The velocity patcher recently had to stop at 2pm because the driver had to go to a family funeral. There was no relief driver available to take over from him. Crazy. We need to put a programme in place to address this. What number of outside staff are available to us in our Municipal Districts and what does the CE think is the correct number we should have? The graduate programme is critical to success. Kerry Co-op was doing this 20 – 30 years ago for the good of the company. Delighted we have one.

Cllr Dawson (FG): We have selective memory as to where the policy came from. FF brought in the moratorium in March 2009. In budget 2015 the moratorium will be lifted and it will at the discretion of our CE to assign the staff he needs.

Cllr Cullinane (Ind): Supports. In the current climate where we are working out the representation of our people, the work of the staff should be within certain parameters. Doesn’t think the outdoor staff get the credit that they do, especially in delivering for Tidy Towns results.

Cllr O’Keeffe (FF): There is a bounce in the economy but when the recruitment embargo was brought in, we needed it.   Recalls general operatives on the floor of the Galtee factory in Mitchelstown. When things got busy, Galtee brought in cheap labour force from abroad. This is what is happening with the County Council. People are being used under the pretence of TUS, FAS, Gateway. Time we gave people like this dignity and a proper wage.

Cllr Lombard (FG): Would be positive if the embargo was lifted. But must remember why it was brought in. Local authorities are now basically self funded by property tax, rates. Welcomes the proposal that we should have more staff on the ground but a call for the Department to come up with the money to provide them is bizarre. We need to make the money available here in this Chamber. We need to make the proper choices on the ground.

CE: We have a very successful graduate programme. We have taken on 12 graduates ourselves in area of Enterprise and Business Development, human resources and marketing. The moratorium is technically in place. There is discussion going on at national level in relation to possible relaxation of that. But this will take place in the context of what financial capacity we have. There are limited opportunities for local government to raise funds itself and central government funds are largely gone. We are and always will be constrained about the number of staff we can take on. Any recruitment we undertake will have to be done on a prudent basis.

Cllr Doyle (FF): I am not looking back. We need to look forward. We are all proud members of our Municipal Districts. We need to see them working. Councils won’t work otherwise. Was at an AILG meeting a few weeks ago. We need resources and staff on the ground. We can’t just talk about the work we intend to do. Existing staff on the ground do a fabulous job but if this embargo is lifted, asks that we look on it favourably.


11.  Councillor Noel Collins:
“That this Council requests the Department of Environment and Local Government to make additional funding available for the provision of sheltered housing, to non-profit Housing Associations for the elderly.” 

Cllr Collins (Ind): Housing for the elderly is a real problem. Demand is great and houses are few. Nonprofit housing organisations manage over 4000 units for the elderly. Sheltered housing is a source of security for the elderly with safety factors in place. In recent years there has been a drastic fall-off in provision of housing for the elderly. Will continue to fall without government intervention. This needs to happen at once or newly planned sheltered projects will not start. Sheltered housing provides good value for money.

Cllr K Murphy (FG): Timely motion and annual problem. Supports and seconds motion. Worth knowing that part of our growing housing list is the elderly and the single one-off as well. When we are looking at the housing list, it is important that we look very seriously at our non-profit housing associations. Funding has dried up for sheltered and social housing agencies in recent years. Glad to see a financial commitment to them recently. So there is a positive side to this as well. Our voluntary housing agencies are not taking up the slack for what they should be taking up. They used to come up with 95% of the capital fund for housing. That funding has almost dried up completely. What are we as a Council are doing to help these organisations to develop shovel-ready projects?

Cllr Doyle (FF): Elderly single men are a category that are not top of the priority list. Supports the motion.

Cllr Keohane (SF): Supports. In the voluntary sector that I deal with, the hostels need support as well. They are overflowing with elderly men. Breaks your heart when an old man has to leave the hostel with nowhere to go. There is a building next to Simon on Andersons Quay that has been derelict for 10 years. It was Reliance Bearing. Now it is owned NAMA. Can we do something with this?

CE: The more fundng we have, the better. There is a housing strategy in place and we are one of the most advanced and proactive councils with respect to our relationship with voluntary housing associations. That is recognised nationally. We meet every 2 months with the Irish Council for Social Housing and a steering group. We will work with anyone who can provide solutions.

Cllr Collins (Ind): Have a voluntary housing agency in Midleton ready to build if they had the money. Thanks CE and councillors for their support. Hopes government will deliver funding soon.


12.  Councillor Mary Linehan-Foley:
“Calling on Cork County Council to write to Mr James Reilly Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, to assign a Youth Officer to the Youghal area bearing in mind that Youghal unlike surrounding towns such as Midleton, Cobh, Carrigtwohill and Glanmire have a youth worker in their areas.”

Cllr Linehan-Foley (Ind): Not all youth have a desire to play sports and get involved in organised groups. A youth worker would offer kids alternative options, would deliver organised activities. We have a community based drugs worker. We have a garda youth co-ordinator. They liaise well but the youth worker would provide opportunities for personal and social developments.  There should be the same help available for those who aren’t getting into trouble as there is for those who are about to.

Cllr McCarthy (FG): Supports. We opened a new facility in Midleton recently. We have a youth worker. With the new facility, the numbers of youth in attendance have increased hugely. Youghal has been designated a RAPID town. Provision of a youth worker is a logical step.

Cllr Dawson (FG): Have been involved in the Youth Café in Mitchelstown for the last 5 years. Sees the massive benefit of it. Please include Mitchelstown in the letter to the Minister because we have the same challenge and difficulty.

Cllr Hegarty (FG): Great sporting organisations but need something for those who are not into sport. This government clearly acknowleges the needs of children and fully endorses the motion.

Cllr O’Flynn (FF): Agrees with worthy motion. Youth officers work very well.

Cllr N Collins (Ind): Fully supports. Young people are the salt of the earth; the men and women of tomorrow. We must prepare them for the road ahead. More leaders and helpers are needed. Asks the Minister to deliver in accordance with the request. Supports addendum from Cllr Dawson.

Cllr Cullinane (Ind): Supports. Cobh is lucky because it has excellent services and officers. The youth deserve our support for social and personal development. This will teach them to take their place in our commmunities. This needs to be equalised across the county.

Cllr Murphy (Ind): Asks that Charleville would be added to this also. Has previously made representation on this. We put so much emphasis on minding our mental health, if we are serious about this, we need people like Youth Officers coming into the area helping to facilitate that. We just need to find funding to do it.

Agreed that we would write to the Minister.


13.  Councillor Marcia D’Alton:
“That the State would acknowledge its responsibility to people who in attempting to buy their own homes, now find themselves with hazardous properties not constructed in compliance with the building regulations.

And that Cork County Council asks the Department of Environment, Community & Local Government to move away from the current system of self-regulation in the design and construction of buildings and to replace it with an independent Approved Inspector system similar to that operating in the UK.”

Cllr D’Alton (Ind):  Intro to motion

Cllr O’Laoghaire (SF): Supports and commends the motion. It is a huge issue that people have had to leave their homes. These are new buildings. What will we be dealing with in 20 years time when these buildings age? Aside from the fire issue, pyrite is another obvious issue. It is a widespread problem.

Cllr O’Keeffe (FF): Understands the thrust of the motion but wonders are we being too restrictive. A developer has to provide proper construction and supervision. One-off builders can now build again and is delighted about this. All developers are getting a bad name and are we giving the wrong message. Sees where Cllr D’Alton is coming from. If we put in government red tape we won’t see things happening here.

Cllr Canty (FG): Agrees with some aspects of the motion. Worked as a painter on building sites for 20 years. We always had site meetings on Monday mornings. When we bought a house, the mortage lender would get an engineer’s report on the house. We all had to do it. This would solve the problem. There are cowboy builders and this is what we are paying the price for. Agrees with some of the implications.

Cllr K Murphy (FG): Doesn’t agree with all of the motion. Doesn’t understand how some of the buildings have been developed and been signed off on. Someone must be liable for this. There are cowboy builders in lots of places around the country. Someone must be exposed and brought before the courts. Until this happens, we will have H&S issues. Doesn’t agree wholeheartedly with self-regulation’s replacement with Approved Inspectors. What are the changes brought about in 2014?

Cllr Lombard (FG): New legislation brought in in 2014 was significant. Previous regulations weren’t up to it. Are the new legislation too onerous? Time will tell. Amendment to one-off houses are positive. There is now a liability on the certifying engineer arising from the 2014 regulations.

Cllr Hegarty (FG): This is an important motion. Doesn’t know how far we are going to go with it but has to be looked at. One off houses are not a problem. The problem is with larger developments. Maybe link up with H&S? Spoke of entrance piers to a house in a housing estate in Midleton. Estate had been taken in charge. To the naked eye it looked perfect. When a truck backed into the pillars, they collapsed. Revealed major structural issue. We have to make provision for this in our estimates going forward.

Cllr O’Flynn (FF): Motion is timely. Shouldn’t rush this. The people here that are suffering are the misfortunate families. The largest investment they’ll ever make in their life is their home. Who is reponsible? Who signed off on it? Most of these companies are still in business. Agrees with recent changes for one-off houses. Most people who are on top of building their own house will make sure it is just so. The 2014 changes were pricing the one-off houses out of the market. But the present system is not working. The mortgage provider will send out an independent inspector out to check a house. We need to write to the Minister.

Cllr D’Alton (Ind): Clarifies that there are indeed good developers and it is most unfortunate that the bad ones are tainting the image of all developers. An engineer’s certificate is still almost always got either because the house purchaser wants it or because the mortgage provider requires it. But I am an engineer. If an engineer inspects a finished property, he cannot see the condition of the foundation. And he is not going to dig holes in the plasterboard to see the condition of the wiring and plumbing behind it. The only way to guarantee proper construction is to have independent checking of each step of the construction process. The changes brought in in 2014 are so onerous that they may put builders off building. How are we then going to deliver the housing we so badly need? And despite that, they still require that only 15% of new builds are independently inspected. That means 85% of construction projects will still go unchecked. We need 100% inspection.

It was agreed to write to the Minister.




 Mayor O’Shea, Cllrs Cullinane (Ind), Hurley (Ind), Murphy (FG), O’Grady (SF) and Lombard (FG) all had votes of congratulations. Mayor O’Shea said that the County Council would be holding a civic reception to congratulate Tidy Towns awards winners.




The meeting was concluded.


My motion on the responsibility of the State for the quality of new construction, 12th October 2015

That the State would acknowledge its responsibility to people who in attempting to buy their own homes, now find themselves with hazardous properties not constructed in compliance with the building regulations.

And that Cork County Council asks the Department of Environment, Community & Local Government to move away from the current system of self-regulation in the design and construction of buildings and to replace it with an independent Approved Inspector system similar to that operating in the UK.”


The presence of the wall linings with their low surface spread of flame rating played a major part in the disaster. Had the express requirements of the Draft Building Regulations in relation to both these matters been enforced and observed, the consequences of the disaster might have been significantly diminished.” These were the words of Batt O’Keeffe, TD in the Seanad in 1990. He was speaking about the Stardust fire in 1981 and he and other members of the Seanad were debating the new building control laws that were being introduced.

Essentially, those building regulations gave us:

  • Priory Hall in Donaghmede, Dublin. A 189 apartment unit in which the fire risk and shoddy workmanship is so great that the current estimate of its remediation is €30m
  • The Elm Park office and apartment complex on Dublin’s Merrion Road, comprising 218 apartments and enough office space for 3,500 workers on which NAMA had to spend millions to remedy fire safety risks
  • Belmayne, Balgriffin. The largest boom-time residential development on the North side of Dublin in which 300 of the 960 units were shown to need extensive repair work due to fire safety problems
  • Longboat Quay in the heart of the Dublin Docklands. A 298 apartment unit in which the fire risks have recently been identified as so extensive that the residents are to be evacuated.
  • Hillcrest, Pembroke Wood, Passage West where I live. My family has spent the last 10 years remedying the effects of shoddy building. The low point was discovering an empty roast chicken bag used as a draught stopper behind a skirting in the hall. The culmination was the reconstruction of the external balcony this summer at a cost of €5,000.

Under the acclaimed new regulations introduced in 1990, the system of building certification that was approved in Ireland was the “Opinion on Compliance” system, commonly known as self-certification. The designers and builders of projects, on their own responsibility, provided certificates of compliance with the building regulations. Within this system, there is a recognition that the primary responsibility for designing and construction of buildings rests with the industry itself.

Local authorities as the building control authorities were obliged by the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government to inspect 12 – 15% of new buildings for which valid commencement notices were received. So 85% of newly constructed homes were not required to be inspected. Even at that, most local authorities had no written procedures for inspection, no requirement to call to a building site more than once and if they visited at all, they had to take the builder’s word that construction materials were to standard and that behind completed walls and floors, wiring, plumbing and foundations were all up to scratch.

I am angry about this. Council officials were so stretched they could not keep up. They were, as ever, insufficiently resourced by government. The inadequacies of the 1990 building controls were highlighted in the Seanad before they were even passed into law. It was to take a series of evidenced catastrophies arising from those inadequacies before building controls were tightened by new laws in 2014.

The new system now requires an assigned certifier to oversee and sign off on each stage of the building in accordance with an inspection programme agreed prior to the start of development. In fact, the new system is so tight that 38 separate steps are involved in getting the appropriate permissions and permits in place for a simple warehouse.

Paper does not produce good buildings. We are still in a situation where a developer can employ his own assigned certifier for his own projects. We are still in a situation where the local authorities as the building control authorities will be inspecting only 15% of construction projects. And the new system is so onerous that experts believe it runs the risk of simply putting builders off building.

What is missing is a guarantee of ensured third party oversight and independent audit. The UK has had a simple Approved Inspector system in operation since the 1980s with 100% inspection of new builds. 100% inspection is also required in Northern Ireland, the United States and in many other countries across the EU. There is a reason Ireland is ranked 128th out of 189 nations by the World Bank in respect of our construction process. The UK is ranked 17th.

A history of inadequate legislation and inadequate enforcement is the key reason rogue builders have been allowed to build profits on the back of the innocent public who will be unearthing their legacy for many years to come. The State is entirely responsible for both the inadequate legislation and the inadequate enforcement. I ask that this Council would support me in calling for the State to take responsibility for this. I ask that this Council would support me in calling for the State to financially safeguard consumers who through no fault of their own are prisoners of a legacy left by rogue builders. And I ask that this Council would support me in asking that Ireland would introduce an Independent Inspector system with 100% inspection of construction projects similar to that operating in the UK for the past 30 years.