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01 Oct 2022

Donegal to host international conference on defective blocks

Experts from Canada, the USA, Switzerland and Norway to attend the event

Donegal to host international conference on defective blocks

Mica campaigners who travelled to the EU in Brussels in December 2021 to present to the European Parliament's Committee on Petitions. Included in the photograph is Luke ‘Ming’ Flanaghan MEP, Mica

Donegal is to host an international conference on mica and defective blocks which will look at the causes of the issue and the impacts on affected communities

Atlantic Technological University (ATU) and Ulster University (UU) will host the conference at the Letterkenny ATU campus on Tuesday, November 15.

The event is supported by the European Union and has been backed by MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan.

The conference will be the first day in a three-day event which will see leading international experts in geology, earth sciences and engineering who research the impacts of deleterious minerals on concrete from Canada, the USA, Switzerland and Norway travel to the North West to speak about their own research as well as to learn more about the defective blocks issue in Ireland. 

Other researchers from a wide range of disciplines including business, psychology, sociology and communications will also be presenting on their proposed research examining the wider societal impact of mica and defective blocks.

The organising committee includes professor Paul Dunlop, research director for geography and environmental Sciences, Ulster University; Dr Eileen Doherty, lecturer in digital transformation, Ulster Universit and Joseph Morgan, director of engineering, Druva, who have been actively involved in researching various aspects of defective bocks.    

The conference will look at the science of deleterious geological minerals and their destructive impacts on concrete. Delegates will present research on this issue from various parts of the world including the latest results on the causes of concrete failure in defective blocks from homes in Ireland.

There will also be a session that brings together homeowners, community development groups and researchers from a number of disciplines including business, psychology and sociology to present their ideas on enhancing understanding of the wider societal impacts of this crisis within affected communities. 

The research and application of EU Legislation relating to defective blocks will also be explored at the event.

Professor Paul Dunlop said the joint research is the best opportunity to date for anyone who is interested in learning more about the causes and impacts of defective concrete from leading international scientists. 

“IImpacted homeowners and others interested in enhancing their understanding of this issue are invited to attend this event and to hear first-hand about cutting edge research that is being undertaken internationally on this issue in Ireland, other European countries and in North America.  It will be the first time that such an eminent team of international experts will be gathered in Ireland to view the impacts that deleterious geological minerals are having on local communities and to network to discuss and develop new research ideas on how to tackle this crisis from various viewpoints and to share knowledge and best practice with local and national authorities ”.  

Dr Eileen Doherty said the EU-funded initiative will further understanding of defective blocks through harnessing both international, regional and national research expertise. 

“It is critical to expand our understanding of this issue on the wider society for example how it is impacting businesses, the mental health impact on families and the wider societal impact of the crisis.” 

Dr Joseph Morgan said the conference will offer the opportunity to understand EU legislation which touches on the construction industry and human rights regulation which is applicable to the defective block crisis in Ireland.

The day following the conference on Wednesday, November 16, will involve a field trip where members of the international delegation will visit affected homes in Donegal to view first-hand the impact of concrete failure.  On Day three, Thursday, November 17, the research team will gather for a workshop at the Magee campus of Ulster University to strengthen research networks and develop future research plans.  

There will be a field trip on November 17 where members of the international delegation will visit affected homes in Donegal to view first-hand the impact of concrete failure. The research team will gather on November 18 for a workshop at the Magee campus of Ulster University to strengthen research networks and develop future research plans.  

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