Call for 'grandfather clause' in legislation for architects' register


OIREACHTAS ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE:HUNDREDS OF people who have been practising as architects for many years have appealed for a “grandfather clause” to be introduced in legislation which would give them automatic entry on a new register for the profession.

Members of the Architects’ Alliance told the Oireachtas Environment Committee yesterday that their members risked ending up “on the streets” and being fined or imprisoned because of their “exclusion” from the new register.

Since last November only people whose name is on the register operated by the Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland (RIAI) are entitled to call themselves architects.

Members of the alliance, who provide architectural services but may not have formal qualifications in architecture, are entitled to apply for registration. However, they must first go through a technical assessment procedure in which their CV and work is judged by a panel of architects.

It was unfair to expect “grandfathers” to jump over the new hurdles put in place under the new system, which was designed for academically-trained people, alliance spokesman Brian Montaut told the committee yesterday.

“We’re asking for a provision which does not put us out on the streets because the goal posts have been moved.”

TDs were generally supportive of the alliance’s case. Fine Gael’s Phil Hogan said there was a perception that the RIAI was operating a closed shop or an “executive club” through the mechanism used for the register. He claimed it would cost members of the alliance up to €20,000 to qualify for the register.

John Graby, registrar of the RIAI, said the register had been brought in to protect consumers’ interests. “Having a standard means that consumers can be assured that any person using the title architect has demonstrated a specific level of knowledge, skill and competence and can be judged against that standard if problems occur.”

He said the registrar represented an opportunity for people with unrecognised qualifications who, for example, were excluded from applying for State contracts under current rules.