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'O'Brien needs to get his act together' say Mica protesters outside Leinster House today

Campaigners are seeking 100% redress for damage to their homes.

Savannah Diver (age 8) is the daughter of Mica activist Paddy Diver. She was outside Leinster House today with her family, where they brought several Mica affected building blocks from homes in Donegal.
Savannah Diver (age 8) is the daughter of Mica activist Paddy Diver. She was outside Leinster House today with her family, where they brought several Mica affected building blocks from homes in Donegal.
Image: Sam Boal

Updated Sep 30th 2021, 12:45 PM

MICA-AFFECTED HOMEOWNERS will continue to protest outside Leinster House today calling for 100% redress. 

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien last night met with homeowners to update them on Government proposals. 

Campaigners are seeking 100% redress for damage to their homes which was caused by the mineral Mica in concrete building blocks.

Previously Minister O’Brien and the wider Government gave a commitment that it will enhance an existing redress scheme for residents in Mayo and Donegal.

O’Brien has acknowledged that the current scheme is not working as originally intended. 

In a statement, the Department of Housing said the Minister understands the stress and the hardship which affected homeowners are facing and assured them that enhancements would be made to the current scheme.  

The Minister said he expects to have receipt of the report of the working group today, which he will consider. 

“The homeowner representatives have submitted a very detailed proposal as to what they wish to see in an enhanced scheme and I would like to thank them for their engagement and proposals.

“As for the next steps, I will, along with the Taoiseach, Tanaiste, Minister Ryan, Minister Donohoe and Minister McGrath, and with input from the Attorney General, consider proposals which can then be presented to Cabinet in a memo.

“I intend to bring this memo to Cabinet in the coming weeks,” he said. 

It is expected the memo will be brought in two weeks time. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today, Mica campaign spokesperson Michael Doherty said affected homeowners presented their final position paper regarding redress to the Minister.

“We listened to the Minister again and he reaffirmed his commitment to an enhanced scheme and we were told we will get the consolidated final Working Group document today,” he said. 

Doherty said however “there was nothing concrete” following the meeting and said affected homeowners are “very, very concerned” that redress could be capped at €350,000 per homeowner which he said would leave 40% of those affected “behind”. 

“Again, it looks like a deliberate attempt to pitch homeowner against homeowner,” he said, adding campaigners would today reiterate calls for 100% redress for those affected. 

“We cannot leave people behind here, this is our one time to do it and to do it right. We want everybody included, there should be nobody left behind.”

A previous scheme launched by the government was deemed inadequate by campaigners, something that has been acknowledged by government. 

Paddy Diver, one of the leaders of the campaign, said that he had no confidence in the housing minister to deliver on his promises.

“I’m not impressed. They’re kicking the can down the street all the time,” he said.

“I don’t think Darragh O’Brien cares. He cares more about his image and his hairstyle than he does care about Mica. He is playing with people’s minds.

“He told them there’d be an answer at the end of September. Now he says the first week of October. Then he said the third week of October. Darragh O’Brien needs to get his act together.”

He called on people to attend a protest organised in Dublin next month.

Helen McLaughlin, who lives in Dublin but is from Donegal, attended the demonstration outside the Dail today.

“I’m from Buncrana originally and I think how this whole Mica disaster has played out has just been devastating and we’re here to lend support to our own local community in Buncrana, but also obviously to the wider community beyond Donegal.

“We really think, taking time to come here today, the Government really has to get something over the line. It cannot go on any longer,” she said.

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Also speaking on Morning Ireland Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said that a “more comprehensive” response is needed but added that he would not speculate on figures. 

“I’m not going to add to the anxiety and incredible trauma that all those faced who have seen their homes begin to crumble by y further art into speculation in relation to it,” he said. 

“What I and others in government have said is we absolutely accept and we need to respond back in a more comprehensive way, an enhanced way than we have at the moment. What we need to do is find a way of doing it that does all we can to meet the needs that we know are there but there are issues that we need to consider regarding how we can do it, and the cost in relation to it.” 

This morning, Taoiseach Micheál Martin addressed the Construction Ireland Federation annual conference, though he did not mention the Mica controversy.

“These have without question been very challenging times,” he told stakeholders in the industry.

“But as Ireland moves into a new phase of managing the pandemic, we have set out a clear path in front of us to push forward and build for the future… housing is the single most urgent and important social issue facing our country at this moment in time,” he said.

With reporting by Christina Finn and Press Association

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