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Affected homeowners Joseph Morgan and Chris Duddy in Brussels today at the presentation of the fact finding mission report.

Families affected by the mica scandal escalate crisis to European Commission

MEP Colm Markey says he believes the EU let the banks “off the hook” by not introducing strict remediation clauses.

HOMEOWNERS AND FAMILIES affected by the mica scandal today attended the European Parliament in Brussels to escalate their crisis to the European Commission.

The families addressed the parliament as it presented its report into a defective blocks fact finding mission, conducted in October.

Representatives of the families affected by the scandal, Joe Morgan and Chris Duddy, said it was “critical” the pair deliver their formal complaint alongside the parliaments report that details the escalation of the crisis to the European Commission.

Morgan said: “This complaint, which has been worked on for the last few years, follows on from our face to face meeting with the Commission in June 2023.”

A report, of which a draft was published by the parliament last week, was presented to the parliament today after a delegation visited Ireland.

It said that it was  “imperative” that the mica redress scheme be “improved” and called for the “red tape” involved to be reduced.

The mica scandal first made headlines in 2021 when homeowners saw concrete blocks used to build their homes and were beginning to crumble.

The blocks were made with a natural mineral named muscovite mica – the presence of mica absorbs moisture, weakens the concrete and causes the homes to crack and crumble.

The government introduced a scheme in November 2021 to support affected homeowners to remediate their dwelling and this scheme was enhanced last summer.

The European Parliament said the scheme should be improved by “addressing the concerns expressed by homeowners, widening its scope, reducing red tape, speeding up the progress of the process and involving financial institutions”.

However, the families feel this report does not highlight how these building materials were allowed to be in the European market in the first place, something which they have labelled a “failure”.

Morgan said: “In the formal complaint, we asked The EU Commission to mandate enhancements to Irish legislation to ensure market surveillance in Ireland is effective and bring an end to the flood of defective products into the EU market.

IMG-20240123-WA0001 Joseph Morgan and Chris Duddy attending the PETI committee today at the presentation of the fact finding mission report.

“We have also asked for fully compensated remediation, something wholly lacking in current government proposals,” he added.

This stance was echoed by MEP Colm Markey earlier today after he said he believes the banks were “let off the hook” as the report did not include strict remediation clauses.

The report calls for the scheme to “show more flexibility and take better account of the financial burden of all the costs, such as the cost for new foundations, provisional accommodation and rental costs”.

The report also recommended that an arrangement should be in place for homeowners not in a position to advance some of the costs.

Elsewhere, it said there is a “need for a clearer picture” when identifying those accountable for the crisis through a “thorough and transparent public enquiry”, as well as “effective and timely legal proceedings, when appropriate”.

Markey welcomed the report, but said: “While it calls for more involvement of financial institutions, I believe the report can go even further.

The banks have to step up by offering zero-interest loans to those applying to the redress scheme.”

“I will be engaging with my colleagues over the coming weeks to see how we can amend the report to reflect this position,” he added.

Morgan, before the hearing, said: “It is imperative that the next generation of home builders – our children, do not find the need to return to the EU to explain their homes are crumbling down around them.”

The mica families representatives also thanked MEP Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan for his efforts in highlighting the issue at the European level.

Additional reporting by Diarmuid Pepper.

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