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19 Jan 2024

The Irish Times

UK: Housing minister says Irish insulation firm Kingspan has consistently evaded responsibilities over Grenfell; incl. company comments

"Kingspan has consistently evaded responsibilities over Grenfell, says UK’s Gove", 19 January 2024

UK Housing Secretary Michael Gove has accused Cavan-based insulation company Kingspan of trying to “wriggle out of their responsibilities” in relation to the Grenfell Tower fire in London...

Kingspan products were used in the west London tower block, where 72 people were killed in a fire in 2017.

The company has long said that its K15 insulation product made up only 5 per cent of the insulation in the tower block, and was used without its recommendation.

It has also said that the exterior cladding, which it did not manufacture, was deemed by the inquiry to be the “principal reason” for how quickly the fire spread.

But Mr Gove told BBC Northern Ireland that Kingspan had “consistently evaded their responsibilities”.

He said: “We know that there are developers, people who were actually responsible for buildings, who have contributed (to remediation works) and I’m grateful to them and grateful to builders and developers across the United Kingdom for making a contribution.

“But Kingspan continue, I’m afraid, to evade their responsibilities.

“And the idea that they can say that their products were used inappropriately, I’m afraid, is part of a pattern of behaviour on their part where they will not fully acknowledge their responsibility to the victims of this tragedy.”

Mr Gove wrote to Ulster Rugby on Wednesday to welcome news its relationship with Kingspan would end on a phased basis by June 2025...

A Kingspan spokeman said it is “important to refocus on what matters here.”

“The inquiry has found that ‘the principal reason’ for the rapid-fire spread was the Polyethylene-cored ACM cladding (which was not made by Kingspan) and expert evidence by the inquiry’s own experts is that the type of insulation used was not a factor in the speed or spread of the fire,” the spokesman said in an emailed response to The Irish Times.

“Our K15 product continues to be safely used in multiple systems across the UK in compliance with building regulations, and can be safely retained in appropriate cladding systems in line with guidance sponsored by the UK Government.”

“What is now urgently required is meaningful engagement with product manufacturers to quickly establish an appropriate industry-wide funding mechanism that can be implemented, so homeowners can be safe in their homes.

“Since February 2022 Kingspan has called for this and we did so again in July 2023 when we met the Secretary of State’s team and with officials from the department,” he added.