Dáil Éireann - Volume 456 - 10 October, 1995
Written Answers. - Brick Production.
Mr. Leonard Mr. Leonard
56. Mr. Leonard asked the Minister for Enterprise and Employment the percentage of bricks used in building construction which are imported; and the efforts, if any, being made at Departmental level to increase the level of brick production in view of the potential of this industry. [11846/95]
Minister for Enterprise and Employment (Mr. R. Bruton) Richard Bruton
Minister for Enterprise and Employment (Mr. R. Bruton): The data sought by the Deputy is not available from the Central Statistics Office. The industrial development agencies have advised that the percentage of imported bricks used in building construction is approximately 50 per cent of an estimated total market of 50 million bricks, £12.5 million in 1995.
The Irish market for bricks has grown by about 30 per cent over the past two years. An important element of the increase in brick usage is driven by fashion and consumer taste requiring large ranges of brick types to be available. Brick types incorporate a large variety of colours, textures and finish and these elements are primarily determined by two factors, clay type available and the firing process. The high iron content in the native Irish clay means that Irish brick naturally fires  red. Builders and architects are currently showing a preference for yellow coloured brick. It is estimated that this type of brick now accounts for c.50 per cent of the Irish market. Consequently a major share of the increased demand is being satisfied by imports. The major importers of bricks into Ireland have as many as 170 brick products whereas Irish brick manufacturers are limited to about 25.
For some years Irish brick manufacturers have been engaged in attempting to develop new brick types, textures and colours with varying degrees of success. Their efforts to produce a wide variety of bricks are limited by access to local clay types. New entrants to the market from overseas would similarly be hampered by the limited range of clay sources in Ireland.
In order to maintain competitiveness the industrial development agencies will continue to encourage and assist brick manufacturing companies to invest in research and development for the purposes of producing colour variation in their products. Forbairt will also assist them through the medium of the construction linkage programme which seeks out linkage opportunities with overseas companies setting up here.
Dáil Éireann 456 Written Answers. Brick Production.