Guantánamo Bay

Belmayne Timber Frame Construction – Cometh An Inferno ?

2013-07-11:  Further to the Posts about the ongoing Fire Safety Fiasco at Priory Hall in Dublin, beginning on 2011-10-18 … and my recent reply to Ms. Saffron Willetts, dated 2013-06-09, which can be found at the top right-hand corner of this Page …

A house with a timber-framed party wall, whether the wall projects above the roof covering or not … in a terrace, or semi-detached … and constructed in 2004 (approaching the height of the Celtic Tiger frenzy in Ireland) ??   Not even torture in Guantánamo Bay (Cuba) would persuade me to buy … or rent !

One last word of caution … carefully examine any ‘Opinion on Compliance’ covering this property.


On Sunday evening last, 7 July 2013, I received an e-mail notification from Mr. Del Tillyer about a Belmayne ‘Fire Safety’ Press Conference to be held in his home … 19 Churchwell Place, Belmayne, Dublin 13 … on Tuesday, 9 July 2013, at 11.00 hrs.  I was pleased to attend.

Belmayne, Dublin 13 - Fire Hazard (1)

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2013-07-09. Click to enlarge.

Back in ye good olde days of the Celtic Tiger … the price paid for this 2 Storey Timber-Framed Dwelling Unit was a staggering € 530,000 !   However, following occupation of their new home, it was noticed by the family that there were BIG problems concerning nuisance sound transmission from neighbouring units.  And that’s when their long shabby saga of ‘Fire Safety at Belmayne’ began … or, more correctly, it should be called the tortuous saga of a ‘Serious Lack of Fire Safety at Belmayne’ !!

Belmayne, Dublin 13 - Fire Hazard (2)

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2013-07-09. Click to enlarge.


In order to satisfy the Legal Requirements of Part D: ‘Materials and Workmanship’, Second Schedule to the Irish Building Regulations … this form of construction was covered by an Irish Agrément Board Certificate …

Front Page of IAB Certificate No.04/0198 (rev.2007) - Kingspan Century Medium Rise Timber Frame Construction SystemKingspan Century Medium Rise Timber Frame Construction System – IAB Certificate No.04/0198 (rev.2007)

Click the Link Above to read and/or download PDF File (1.43 MB)


Unfortunately … any connection between IAB Certificate 04/0198 and the bitter, cold reality of how 19 Churchwell Place was actually constructed … is, at best, extremely tenuous … as the following photographs clearly show …

Belmayne, Dublin 13 - Fire Hazard (3)

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2013-07-09. Click to enlarge.

Belmayne, Dublin 13 - Fire Hazard (4)

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2013-07-09. Click to enlarge.

[ It was difficult … but I resisted the temptation to add an elaborate caption to each image which would describe the original Shoddy, Careless, Incompetent Site Workmanship !   And please bear in mind that the opening-up shown was limited … more problems cannot be seen, or will only become apparent in the future, e.g. the inevitable settlement of low-density thermal insulation !! ]

Belmayne, Dublin 13 - Fire Hazard (5)

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2013-07-09. Click to enlarge.

Belmayne, Dublin 13 - Fire Hazard (6)

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2013-07-09. Click to enlarge.

[ This is the other unreported and completely hidden Irish National Debt … over 20 years of ‘Lite’ National Regulation of the Construction Sector and an Entirely Inadequate and Ineffective National System of Local Authority Building Control / Independent Site Technical Control have resulted in a New National Building Stock which will require an enormous amount of difficult and costly repairs during the next decades … which will have to be paid for by the citizen !   Those responsible … National Authorities Having Jurisdiction (AHJ’s), Professional Institutes and Societies, Property Developers, Construction Product Manufacturers, and Politicians … have all quietly slipped away from the crime scene !! ]

Belmayne, Dublin 13 - Fire Hazard (7)

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2013-07-09. Click to enlarge.

Belmayne, Dublin 13 - Fire Hazard (8)

Photograph taken by CJ Walsh. 2013-07-09. Click to enlarge.


The Fire Consultant on this Project is Mr. Noel C. Manning.



Explanatory Note:

In the event of a fire incident at this dwelling unit … why are the construction failures shown in the photographs above so risky, so hazardous, so dangerous for its occupants (more precisely – their health, safety and welfare) ??

Even within the Construction Sector, it is not well understood that the Fire Safety Objectives of Building Regulations, generally and not just in Ireland, are limited in scope to the protection of people who use and/or occupy buildings from fire (i.e. heat, smoke and flame).  These Fire Safety Objectives only ‘extend’ to the protection of property (i.e. the building fabric) … insofar as the protection of that property is relevant to the protection, including the safe evacuation, of people in the building.

The biggest original construction failure shown above is that there is an extensive warren of continuous, hidden cavities within the walls, floors, service duct and ceilings of the house … which facilitates the unseen spread of fire, including toxic smoke, very rapidly throughout the building and to adjoining dwelling units.  This type of insidious fire spread cannot be detected by smoke alarms located in the area of a staircase.

The serious ‘cavity’ failure is compounded by another serious construction failure … the weak and inadequate protection from fire (i.e. heat, smoke and flame) to the staircase itself … which is the only means of evacuation from the house for the occupants.

The limited Fire Safety Objectives of Building Regulations must be clearly distinguished from Project-Specific Fire Engineering Design Objectives which have a much wider scope.  For an elaboration of this issue … go to: 




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An Open Letter to President Barack Obama – Questions !?!

2009-02-14 …


Dear Barack,


Please allow me to extend a warm welcome to you onto the International Stage … and an even warmer welcome for the United States of America back into the International Fold of Nations.


The last 8 Years have been a nightmare for concerned observers outside your country.  I should immediately add that a large branch of my extended family has been living in New York City and State since the mid-1950s.  And that you are now affectionately known in Ireland, because some of your roots are based here, as President O’Bama !


Being a pragmatic person, however, you will want me to come quickly to the point … and be direct.


You will shortly be signing into law a 787.2 Billion Dollar Economic Stimulus Package of spending increases and tax relief, which is intended to encourage an economic recovery in your country and to create jobs.  It is surprising that you have permitted significant funds earmarked for school construction, and for colleges and universities, to be removed from the Package during the ‘Compromise’ Negotiations.  Funding to provide health insurance for the unemployed has been sharply reduced, while funds for the ‘Greening’ (?) of Federal Buildings have also been scaled back.


The political imperative of successfully steering this Stimulus Package through Congress, at this time, is understood … but the final shape of the Package does not augur well for the future of your Presidency.



Taken together with the outcome from another recent event in my country, Ireland … and my surprise is turning to worry …


In Dublin, towards the end of January 2009, I attended a Round Table Discussion with a key individual who works in the US Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) – Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP).


Having posed 2 Questions after his presentation with regard to US Federal Policy on the ‘Green’ (i.e. environmental & energy) Performance of Federal Buildings, I discovered the following …


         The individual concerned was completely unaware that there is a considerable difference between the ‘Green’ Agenda, i.e. a limitation of considerations to environmental aspects of Sustainable Human & Social Development alone (an outdated concept belonging more properly to the 1990s) … and the ‘Sustainability’ Agenda, which is far broader in scope and absolutely essential if we are to meet the great challenges being posed since the beginning of this 21st Century … for example, the World Trade Center Incident (9-11) in New York ;


         There would appear to be no independent technical controls monitoring the ‘real’ environmental and energy performance in US Federal Buildings, no penalties for failure to meet performance targets, no horizontal integration between Federal Institutions dealing with procurement and building/system/product operation, and a systemic lack of proper accountability.



If it is your wish that the USA takes up a position of global leadership on some or all of the above issues, we – at Sustainable Design International – would like some information and assurances concerning the following matters …


         When will you, and your Administration, begin to properly appreciate the considerable difference between a ‘Green’ Agenda and a ‘Sustainability’ Agenda … and the significant Institutional Re-Engineering required to implement US Federal, State and City Policies geared towards Sustainable Human & Social Development ?   How would you then intend to dramatically raise awareness … and mobilize all of the people in your country for action … at Federal, State and City Levels ?


         If your Administration enters into negotiations on an International Kyoto II (post 2012) Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) … will US National Performance be open and transparent … and be seen to be ‘reliable’ by other countries, particularly Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa ?


         When, precisely, will the US Senate ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, with its Optional Protocol ?   When will you arrange to fund the implementation of this Convention, with its Optional Protocol … and then arrange that a coherent and comprehensive programme of implementation, which must have a short timescale, be initiated ?   How long will that implementation timescale be ?



Effective International Law and Lasting Peace are 2 Prerequisite Essential Requirements for Sustainable Human & Social Development.  In order to free up current ‘process’ log-jams and bring lasting peace to the regions of the Caribbean and the Middle East … it is you who must make the first substantive moves


         When will you arrange for the immediate cessation of all aggressive and hostile activities against one of your close neighbours – the small island of Cuba – and a complete end to the economic, social & political choke-hold on its small population ?   When will your Administration finally arrange for the termination of the illegal occupation of Guantánamo Bay – an international act of piracy facilitated by the 1901 Platt Amendment ?   When will you finally ‘curtail’ the rabid behaviour of some of the more fanatical Cuban Exile Elements in Florida … and release the Miami 5 ?


         When will you, and your Administration, bring your considerable authority and power to bear on the Criminal State of Israel … and force it to comply with International Law and Universal Human & Social Rights ?



We patiently await your considered response.


Many thanks for your attention.



Signed:  C. J. Walsh, Managing Director, Sustainable Design International Ltd. – Ireland, Italy & Turkey.






Postscript 2012-01-16:

Dear Barack … Apologies are Meaningless … and who these Individual Soldiers are is not important.  This recent image from Afghanistan betrays an in-grained national mindset !

The Guantánamo Bay Detention Centre, in illegally occupied Cuba, is still operating … the Criminal Blockade of this small Caribbean Island continues with full bullying force … and The Miami 5 are still rotting in U.S. Jails, with access for family members made particularly difficult, if not impossible.

Your Administration is still aggressively frustrating the widespread International Consensus on Climate Change … Your Offspring, the Apartheid State of Israel has now replaced South Africa as the No.1 Maverick Rogue in the International Community … etc., etc., etc.

The United States of America continues to urinate on International Law !!







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Israel a Criminal State ? Guantánamo Bay an Illegal Occupation ?

2009-01-01:  Sustainable Human & Social Development is much more than an academic theory.  It is a necessary concept for our troubled times … in our global community.  Intricate, open, dynamic and still evolving … it is very much intended for practical implementation.


A robust understanding of this social catalyst is critically underpinned by human and social rights.  Specifically, initial reference is made to the following International Legal Instruments:

         1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UN OHCHR) ;

         2001 Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (UNESCO) ;

         2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN).


Sustainable Design is the ethical response, in built and wrought form, to Sustainable Human & Social Development.  As our understanding of ‘sustainability’ develops, so too must ‘design’ (spatial planning, architectural/engineering/industrial design, and e-design).


At a macro-level … issues causing untold social, environmental, economic, institutional, political and legal damage, destruction and harm:


We see on our television screens and hear from our radios that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) are again committing criminal acts in Gaza.  These acts are authorized by the Government of Israel.  The country’s population continues to vote these Governments into power.


The USA’s treatment of prisoners in Guantánamo Bay was, and still is, degrading, inhumane and criminal.  Beyond that, however … the annexation of the bay area remains, to this day, an international act of piracy (refer to the 1901 Platt Amendment and later ‘treaties’ with Cuba procured by the threat or use of force).


The USA and British fundamentalist western crusade against the regime and peoples of Iraq was a cynical act of barbarism and a crime against humanity.  We look forward to the day when George W Bush and Tony Blair will be brought before the International Criminal Court (ICC).


At a micro-level … every designer can act, and make his/her positive contribution:


Accessibility of buildings for people with disabilities, to take just one example, is now a legitimate social right which must be protected and nurtured, i.e. properly resourced, by all States Parties to the 2006 UN Disability Rights Convention.  People must be able to independently approach, enter, use, egress (under normal conditions) and evacuate (in a fire emergency) any building in our built environment.


Two Immediate Requirements for Sustainability Implementation:

  1. A radical overhaul of the Education and Training of any person connected, directly or indirectly, with the design, construction, operation, management, servicing or maintenance of our Human Environment.
  2. The widespread introduction of Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) at all levels of our Public and Private Institutions.  SIA is a continual evaluation and optimization process – informing initial decision-making, or design, and shaping activity/product/service realization, useful life and termination, or final disposal – of the interrelated positive and negative social, environmental, economic, institutional, political and legal impacts on balanced and equitable implementation of Sustainable Human & Social Development.



Happy New Year !









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