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‘National emergency’: emails reveal building watchdog’s pleas for support

Regulator staff are forced to work outside normal hours, cancel annual leave and rely on interns to plug gaps despite appeals for extra resources

A report on the fire at Grenfell Tower in London in 2017, which killed 72 people, led to a UK-wide review of building regulations. Picture: Getty

In January 2022, Mairéad Phelan, the head of the national building watchdog, sat down at her desk and penned a blistering email to her bosses about Ireland’s ability to regulate its construction industry – a sector worth tens of billions annually.

Her subject line got straight to the point: “National Emergency!”

“Since the setting up of this office I have never had the full complement of staff, leaving the office in a position where the ...