THE MINISTER FOR the Environment has said a report by the specially commissioned Pyrite Panel vindicates his belief that the State is not responsible for the problems being experienced in some homes across the country.
Although he acknowledged the “difficult and distressing situations” faced by those living in homes with pyrite problems, Phil Hogan said the responsibility lay with stakeholders, including quarries, material suppliers, builders, developers, vendors and relevant insurance companies.
It is not a sustainable viewpoint that the taxpayer should be made liable for the costs associated with the remediation of pyrite damaged dwellings. The costs should fall to those responsible and I welcome the Panel’s clear view on this matter. The Panel was unambiguous in its view that the parties with direct or indirect responsibility for the pyrite problem should face up to their responsibilities and provide solutions for homeowners and that the State is not responsible for the pyrite problem or liable for remediation costs.
The Government has said that it is not liable for the costs of fixing the properties but Hogan told the Dáil today that the State has a role and duty to assist homeowners as they try and find a resolution.
I want to make it clear that I will do what is necessary to ensure that effective solutions are provided for affected homeowners…As I have said earlier, I am conscious of the long period of time that many affected homeowners have been waiting to get a resolution to this complex problem and I will not delay in finalising robust proposals and to bring this phase of the process to a speedy conclusion. Nobody should be in any doubt which side of this debate that I am supporting. It is the homeowners that have suffered for far too long with this problem.
Hogan has accepted a recommendation from the Panel to set up a resolution board, adding that he has asked his department to finalise arrangements as early as next week.
The Minister said he hopes that all stakeholders will respond positively to requests within 10 days. If not, he will ask the government to sanction a levy which would provide finance for the resolution.
The move has been welcomed by the Opposition with Fianna Fáil’s Barry Cowen describing it as “overdue, but welcome”. He also said he intends to hold Hogan to his deadline of 10 days.
In his statement to the Dáil, the Minister also discussed the number of dwellings impacted by pyrite. He said estimates are significantly less than the figures which have been speculated in the public domain.
He said the panel’s estimate of 12,250 is more accurate and based on proper methodology than the 60,000 or 70,000 being quoted by various other sources.