The following letter was sent to Mr Aidan O’Connor, Principal Advisor of Building Standards at the Department..

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Dear Mr O’Connor,

I hope this letter finds you well. Please see below a letter I received from Mr Martin Vaughan last week.

(letter here: https://amandagallagherblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/31/another-ridiculous-letter-from-the-doeclg/

I now write to you, as Mr Vaughan firmly slammed the door of communication in my face, due to more staggering misinformation from the DOECLG on the serious issue of self building under S.I.9.

Can I draw your attention to Mr Vaughans words in his letter below – he states:

“I will not be in a position to supply you with the letters you seek from the Department to CIF/CIRI, BCAs, the Law Society, the RIAI, ACEI and SCSI instructing them to cooperate with self builders. All of these are independent legal entities in their own right and the Department has no role in relation to instructing or directing them along the lines suggested.

In relation to the proposed fair system of building control advocated on the online BREG blog, I would say that the idea that any reforms intended to empower competence and professionalism and to enhance accountability can be achieved on a cost neutral basis is suspect in itself.”

How can Mr Vaughan have the gall to tell me that the DOECLG cannot issue letters regarding the serious self build situation to the key stakeholders – and more astounding – to local authorities? It is the DOECLG who say that my concerns on self building are unwarranted, it is the DOECLG who say that Minister Hogan is not misleading the Nation on the issue, it is the DOECLG who say that the Professionals have no problem working with self builders – yet when I request a simple method of proof of these ‘facts’, I am met with a most discourteous statement – ‘that the DOECLG has no role in instructing or directing…’ – Mr Vaughan cannot be serious? – how can he say such a thing? – the DOECLG instructs Local Authorities every day of the week, on issues such as Wastewater Legislation, Refuse, Recycling etc.. but when it comes to this most controversial issue, which is causing distress and confusion to many citizens, Mr Vaughan claims, the DOECLG cannot send a little note to the BCAs in the country, instructing them to welcome self builders – Give Us A Break!!

Mr O’Connor, I wish to now tell you how the S.I. 9 looks to the ordinary person in Ireland:

The DOECLG, because it has the power to do so, invited a core group of key stakeholders to come together to revise building control legislation, to supposedly come up with better regulation to prevent another Priory Hall – they sat and ‘talked’ for two years – after this extensive period of time and more importantly, after, the disgraceful examples of shoddy workmanship of building contractors & developers, you would think seemingly intelligent people would have come up with a system of building control which would be the exact opposite of the self regulated system that produced Priory Hall – a building inspectorate with ‘teeth’ to bite builders & developers when they stray, a system that would actually mean independent inspections were, in fact, carried out – but no – the Nation has been handed a system of ‘Super Self Regulation’ – a system which will have us go through ‘Priory Hall De Ja Vu’ many, many times in the future – a missed opportunity, to say the least, has occurred, and it is a crying shame.

S.I. 9 is an outrage – made all the more outrageous when one realises that the core group of key stakeholders – the elite – all hold a monopoly on the construction sector – in is crystal clear that democracy was ignored in the formation of S.I.9 – instead a core group of individuals devised a system that would generate great wealth for themselves – and when questioned by concerned ‘outsiders’, the key stakeholders seemed gagged and our Government Ministers & Officials rally round misinformation in order to protect the vested interests of the elite key stakeholders – I hope you can understand why this is so outrageous to the ordinary person.

The S.I.9 is building control straight out of the CIFs wildest dreams – there must have been champagne bottles popping at the CIF offices on March 1st – as one journalist put it ‘one can see the CIFs fingerprints all over this legislation’. Meanwhile, we, the ordinary people, who are left with this ‘nightmare’ are left with no option but to protest against it – and all we can do is continue our protest and continue to point the DOECLG in the way of the ‘Collins & O’Cofaigh – A Better Way’ system of building control that will solve all the issues within S.I. 9. Mr Vaughan claims to be ‘suspect’ of this ‘Better Way’ System – this statement, I find, is on the upper scale of the ‘pot calling the kettle black syndrome’ – as it is the S.I.9 that holds the most ‘suspicion’ for the Nation – secret talks, walls of silence, scandalous misinformation, cartels, monopolies – the S.I. 9 has the makings of a riveting thriller novel.

You know, as the weeks progress in this living ‘nightmare’ for self builders, the juvenile behaviour of the Minister & the Department increases – you would think that you all would be more concerned about resolving the injustice that has taken place – but it seems that you are more concerned about an online blog than about severe injustice – I have come across, on two occasions recently, that the Bregs Blog has been mentioned in a negative light – by Mr Vaughan in his letter to me – he states that the Bregs Team are advocates of the ‘Collins & O’Cofaigh – A Better Way’ system of building control (as if this is a bad thing) and Minister Hogan also mentioned the Bregs Blog in his recent Irish Times – Letter to the Editor. He stated:

“..an online blog with a clear vested interest to discredit the new regulations”

I wish to inform the DOECLG and Minister Hogan that without the Bregs Blog, (who, I believe, are not representative of any professional body or organisation) – the self builders of Ireland would have been left stranded on this Island of Injustice over the past few months, we would have had nowhere to go to find facts, the Bregs Blog has been a guiding light to us in this time of great darkness and we prefer the pain of the Truth that the Bregs Blog offer us rather than the comfort of the Lies that others throw our way.

I suppose this Government of ours admires the Chinese Government and their success in disabling all Internet Search Engines relating to Tiananmen Square so that the Chinese citizens will never know the extent of the terrible truth – it is jolly good for us that we live in Ireland and that we have access to honest, informative websites such sites as the IAOSB, Bregs Blog, Si9.ie. By the way Minister Hogan should really understand at this stage that no one can discredit these regulations as by their very unjust nature they have discredited themselves.

The way in which the DOECLG have handled the whole self build debacle has totally undermined the S.I.9 – by the Department blatantly misinforming the Nation on the issue – you have given the three professional bodies, no other choice but to erect a wall of silence, (albeit that wall came down for an instant last week when Mr Mandal sent some misinformation to me) which in turn, undermines their authority as representatives of their members – what do you think the members of the RIAI, SCSI & ACEI think of their ‘leaders’ now?

All the key stakeholders should hang their heads in shame, and by their silence, they are, in fact, doing so – although, it will only be a matter of time before they will have to speak on this injustice, as the truth is not long hidden, like oil & water, the truth will rise to the surface and the Nation will not stand for the scandalous S.I.9.

I feel now would be the ideal time to reconvene the BRAB, and along with the S.I. 9 key stakeholders you must call an emergency meeting – but this time please don’t forget to invite the ‘real’ key stakeholders in the construction sector – self builders, tradesmen, the Law Society, consumer agencies etc. – this must be done with immediate effect before more people suffer.

Mr O’Connor, you are a senior official in the Department, so I need to ask you, how on earth, in a modern, fair society like ours, did you think it would be ‘okay’ to draw up building control legislation that would erase the self builder from the construction sector – knowing that every other country in the world permits self building? Was the CIF lobby just to loud to bear? I have much sympathy for you all there in the Department, as you are caught now ‘like a rabbit in a headlight’ – you want the Nation to believe your statements that self building can continue as before yet you refuse to give proof of this, and you want to remain loyal to the deal you made with the key stakeholders and their vested interests. Mr O’Connor the DOECLG cannot serve two masters – you must choose your side – you have the power to revoke the S.I. 9 – that same power that led to the formulation of the S.I.9 can also dissolve it in minutes. I am telling you that S.I.9 is not fit for purpose, it does not do ‘what it says on the tin’ – it is not beneficial to anyone but the key stakeholders – and this awful fact simply will not suffice for the ordinary person on the street.

I will finish by telling you that just because a law is passed does not mean it is right, this legislation is oppressing ordinary people, it is discriminatory, it is totally unjust and irrational, it infringes on our right to freedom, our right to property and is the cause, at this very minute, of people living in ‘limbo’ – not knowing where their future lies – please don’t forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was ‘legal’ also. This Nation cannot afford any more major scandals – the Department has an opportunity now to do the right thing – I, for one, hope and pray that you grab this opportunity, run with it and never look back. We all need a resolution as soon as possible.

Regards to you at this extremely difficult time in the construction sector,

Amanda Gallagher