46 October/November 2023 October/November 2023 47
Government estimates that its flawed
scheme will cost €2.7 billion or even as
much as €3.65 billion, a “staggering figure
according to the Irish Times!
A
mid all the fanfare of CRH PLC’s move
to the NYSE, a dark shadow looms
over the companys future
performance, in the form of the
potential long-term eect and cost of
Ireland’s deleterious minerals crisis on the
company’s earnings, its reputation and Ireland’s
reputation as a safe and reliable country to do
business in.
The crisis continues to spread, while the States
response has been a mixture of obfuscation,
failure to meaningfully engage, refusal to provide
100% Redress and systematic protection for the
perpetrators of the crisis - the CRH-dominated
construction materials sector. There is no denying
that victims of deleterious materials bear no
blame whatsoever for their plight.
But another set of victims has now emerged,
Ireland’s taxpayers, who again bear no
responsibility. This latter group are victims of ill-
judged government policy, which currently
provides protection for the perpetrators — the
cement/quarry/ concrete sector.
I raised the question of the potential liability of
CRH for the crisis at the companys 2022 AGM.
CRH Chairman, Richie Boucher boldly responded,
stating that CRH had no liability for defective
concrete products but he failed to explain why.
There are thousands of victims of CRH and of
the irish Concrete Federation, which is mostly a
front for CRH, from 13 counties in the Republic of
Ireland, with some now emerging in Northern
Ireland also. The current hideously flawed
government ‘scheme’ covers only Donegal,
Mayo, Sligo and Clare but even at that, many
second homes (those not registered with the RTB
(Residential Tenancies Board), together with all
holiday homes, agricultural and commercial
buildings are excluded from the ‘enhanced
scheme’. These restrictions are wholly
discriminatory to those systemically excluded. A
defective block is a defective block, no matter
what type of structure it is used in.
Government estimates that its flawed scheme
will cost €2.7 billion or even as much as €3.65
billion, a “staggering figure” according to the
Irish Times! However, these figures should be
viewed through the National Children’s Hospital
optic, you know, the one where the original
€400m projected cost is now careering towards
€2.4 billion (a five-fold increase).
The history of construction inflation is that the
cost of deleterious materials will be probably be
more like €15-20 billion and that doesn’t include
any allowance for compensation.
The crisis generates mixed feelings for most of
us. Let’s suppose that ten thousand of us bought
a model of motor vehicle that was totally
defective. Would we expect Government to
provide us all with brand new shiny replacement
cars? I think not. We would all chase our local
dealer and indeed the Irish distributor together
with the overall parent company. There is
precedent for this: the Volkswagen emissions
scandal.
The ‘omerta’ around CRH described in Junes
Village
extends to its liability for Mica
State aid is
defined as an
advantage in any
form whatsoever
conferred by
national public
authorities to