Part of children’s hospital facade replaced over ‘non-compliant’ insulation

Building board says issue has been resolved and the building is fire and building-regulation compliant

Part of the facade of the new national children’s hospital has had to be replaced after it was found to contain sub-standard insulation.

The K15 insulation used in the building is the same product that was used in the renovation of the Grenfell Tower in London, where 72 people died in a fire in 2017.

Its manufacturer, Kingspan, says the K15 used in the children’s hospital is fully compliant with fire-safety requirements. A spokesman said some of the product supplied to the hospital had to be removed after a “quality issue” was identified with some batches. The faulty product was replaced with K15 from unaffected batches at Kingspan’s expense, he told The Irish Times. Kingspan notified the contractor building the hospital, Bam, once it became aware of the issue, he said.

In response to queries the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB), which is overseeing construction of the project, said it was notified by Bam of an issue relating to a “single consignment” of K15 insulation board last year. “This issue is now fully resolved, and the material has been returned to the manufacturer. This issue resulted in no additional cost to the NPHDB,” a spokeswoman told The Irish Times.


She said the construction of the new hospital was fully compliant with building regulations and the fire certificate granted for the project. “This compliance has been validated by the project’s independent expert fire advisers and following full-scale fire testing of the façade systems. The new children’s hospital is also a fully sprinklered building, and the specified fire-prevention measures exceed those set out in the standards noted.”

NPHDB minutes show it told Bam earlier this year to replace the “non-compliant” insulation with material “that met standards”.

In ordering the removal of the material the board drew specific attention to “tragedies involving buildings in other jurisdictions where non-compliant materials were used”, according to the minutes.

The Grenfell fire was started by an electrical fault in a refrigerator in a fourth-floor apartment, but spread rapidly up the building’s exterior due to the air gap between the building’s new cladding and the external insulation. About 5 per cent of the insulation was made by Kingspan. and was used in an unsafe way in the tower’s renovation without the company’s knowledge.

The board minutes show the issue was referred to the employers’ representative. This is the forum for resolving disputes between the board and its contractors.

Earlier this month the board told the Public Accounts Committee that more than €1.1 billion has been spent on the project so far. No figure for the final cost of the hospital was provided, but TDs were told the construction budget of €1.43 billion will be exceeded.

Disputes between the NPHDB and Bam have led to claims for additional costs running to hundreds of millions of euro. Almost 1,000 claims are still outstanding.

The hospital is unlikely to open its doors to children until early 2025, years later than originally scheduled.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.