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Did Hogan appoint a HomeBond official to a State board?

Fianna Fáil has asked Phil Hogan to clarify whether he gave a State board job to someone connected with the pyrite controversy.

An example of the pyrite damage caused to one property in Dublin.
An example of the pyrite damage caused to one property in Dublin.
Image: James Horan/Photocall ireland

FIANNA FÁIL has urged the environment minister Phil Hogan to clarify whether he appointed someone connected to a controversial insurance company to a position on a State board.

Environment spokesman Niall Collins has demanded an explanation whether the Conor Taaffe appointed by Hogan to the Building Regulation Advisory Board is the same person who was Customer Services Manager at insurance company HomeBond.

That company came under heavy criticism last year when it opted out of legal responsibility for covering damage to the homes of customers whose houses were built with the mineral pyrite.

That mineral swells when it comes into contact with water, posing major difficulties for the integrity of homes over time.

Taaffe has been the public face of the company since then, and was the signatory of a letter to the Oireachtas environment committee last year in which the company refused to face questioning from TDs over its stance on the pyrite issue.

It emerged in parliamentary questions tabled in the last few weeks by Shane Ross and Michael Healy-Rae that a Conor Taaffe was appointed to the Building Regulation Authority Board, a body which advises the Minister for the Environment on matters relating to building regulations.

No public advertisements were issued for the job, which does not carry any pay.

“People will find it astonishing if Minister Hogan has appointed Conor Taaffe of HomeBond to the State’s building regulation watchdog, given the company’s close links to controversy over insurance cover for homes that have been destroyed by pyrite,” Collins said.

“What is even more disturbing is the latest appointments to Building Regulation Advisory Board were done completely under the radar. Minister Hogan did not advertise the positions despite his Government’s promise to publicly advertise all of the available roles on State boards.

In fact, Minister Hogan has been forced to confirm this week that since coming into power last year, he has made 26 appointments to State Boards without advertising those positions.

The accusations cap a difficult weekend for Hogan, who was the focus of much scrutiny as half the population declined to sign up for the household charge, and who was then reported to be personally in dispute over an unpaid property management bill of over €4,000.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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