Independent TD, Carol Nolan, has asked the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, to investigate revelations that the same insulation used in tower block in Grenfell is to be used in the construction of the new National Children’s Hospital.
The Deputy for Laois Offaly said she had submitted a number of questions to the office of the Minister for Health “after it emerged that the new National Children’s Hospital will use the same insulation material that was used in the London apartment block fire at Grenfell which killed 72 people in 2017″.
Deputy Nolan, who is a member of the Dáil Rural Independent Group, went on to note that the Group had previously identified fire related issues in a Private Members Motion in March 2019:
“Confirmation obtained by Elaine O’Loughlin at the Irish Examiner that the Grenfell insulation material is being used at the Children’s Hospital almost beggar’s belief. This raises the most profound and alarming set of questions and they must be investigated immediately by Minister Donnelly,” she said.
“It is not much comfort for The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB) to say that it is ‘monitoring’ the ongoing Grenfell Inquiry. Indeed, it appears reckless in the extreme to engage in this kind of wait and see attitude.”
Last November, an inquiry into the Grenfell blaze which had led to the deaths of 72 people heard that the company that provided insulation used in the construction of the high-rise apartment block, was “stretching the truth” in saying the product was appropriate for use on high-rise buildings.
Former technical director of Kingspan, Ivor Meredith, told the inquiry into the fire that a test on a new version of Kingspan’s insulation in 2007 showed it could lead to a “raging inferno”, with the insulation “burning on its own steam”.
The Grenfell inquiry has already found that cladding put on the west London tower block fuelled the fire in June 2017 in which so many lost their lives.
Deputy Nolan said that concerns regarding fire safety had already been raised by the Rural Independent Group.
“My colleagues in the Rural Independent Group tried to get the last Minister for Health to examine fire safety and structural viability related concerns that were flagged in 2019 around the decision to construct approximately 1,000 underground car parking spaces directly under the National Children’s Hospital.”
“It seems at every turn this project is being hampered by escalating run-away costs, apparently endless legal battles and a clear inability by the NPHDB to bring it to a conclusion,” she said.
If the project does continue to proceed at the St James’ site then it must be absolutely guaranteed that the fire prevention structures and insulation material are not those which increase risk to children, staff, and families,” concluded Deputy Nolan.