Thomas Pringle TD

Pringle presses Government to assist Ardara child care service affected by defective blocks

Pringle presses Government to assist Ardara child care service affected by defective blocks

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, has pressed Government to assist an Ardara community child care service whose facility is affected by defective blocks, saying the impact of the defective blocks crisis will be seen in far more community and private buildings in Donegal and across the country and must be addressed.

Addressing the Taoiseach in the Dáil today, Deputy Pringle said: “I visited the Ardara Community Childcare centre yesterday and I was horrified to see the effect that defective blocks are having on the building.

“Ardara Community Childcare opened the purpose-built premises in the heart of Ardara town in 2007, after securing funding from the EU for a special program for Peace and Reconciliation and with the help of many local fundraising initiatives in Ardara.

“Since then, it has provided vital childcare for hundreds of families in Ardara and the surrounding areas, and provides an essential afterschool service for children attending the six national schools close to the facility.

“There is no doubt that this childcare service is extremely important to the people of Ardara. Many people rely on this service and many parents have stated that they would be unable to work without it. It was devastating for them to discover the findings of a recent defective block report which showed significant defective concrete materials in all five tested areas, including the building’s foundations.

“The report recommended that the building should be demolished and rebuilt due to the high levels of pyrite, pyrrhotite and free mica, however, disgracefully there is no government funding available for this. Ardara Community Childcare is a community organisation with a voluntary board of directors, who have charitable status,” he said.

The deputy raised the issue today during Leaders’ Questions.

Deputy Pringle said: “We have been telling the government since the introduction of the redress scheme that defective blocks would be found in buildings such as this, yet the government refused to listen and now community organisations, such as Ardara Community Childcare, are faced with this dire situation through no fault of their own.

“They are in this position because of the government’s light-touch regulation and now the government refuses to address or rectify the effect that this light-touch regulation has had on community buildings across Donegal.

“In response to a question regarding Ardara Community Childcare, Minister O’Gorman stated that: ‘This is a unique situation’. I dispute this completely. This is certainly not a unique situation, and the government would know this if they had listened to the opposition and the people affected from the beginning.

“Taoiseach, defective blocks are having a detrimental effect on many important services across Donegal already, such as Raphoe Community Playgroup and Letterkenny Community Childcare as well, and this is only the beginning.

“As the years go on, we will start to see the effect of defective blocks on far more community and public buildings in Donegal and across the whole country. Taoiseach, you must address this now before the issue gets completely out of hand and many vital services are forced to close as a result.

“There is no way the likes of Ardara Community Childcare would be able to raise the amount of money required to demolish and rebuild the building as a small community. Without vital government funding, they will be forced to close their doors, during a crisis in childcare, and this would be devastating for the town of Ardara.

“What are you going to do and what is your government going to do to make sure this doesn’t happen and that these defective buildings will be remedied?” he asked.

In his response the Taoiseach, Simon Harris, said Minister O’Gorman’s department is aware of the impact that defective blocks are having on the child care service in Ardara. He said his understanding was that the Department is examining how it can use existing capital funding in the Department and seeing if that can be repurposed to assist in that case.

Deputy Pringle said: “I do think you need the whole of government to take the approach that this is a crisis, that this is going to get worse.” He said one thing Government could do immediately would be to amend IS465 to include pyrite and pyrrhotite.

The deputy said: “And how do you make sure this doesn’t happen again in the future? You make sure there’s proper regulation put in place.”