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'We don't have the definitive figure': Housing Minister says number of mica-affected homes could be higher

Minister O’Brien says the cost of damage caused by mica could exceed €1.5 billion.

Paddy Diver, mica campaigner and co-founder of '100% Redress No Less’, as he displays examples of the mica material at yesterday's protest.
Paddy Diver, mica campaigner and co-founder of '100% Redress No Less’, as he displays examples of the mica material at yesterday's protest.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/RN

THERE COULD BE double the number of homes affected by mica according to Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien.

Defective building blocks containing mica have caused cracks and fissures to open up in an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 homes primarily in Mayo and Donegal. 

O’Brien said there are four other local authority areas currently carrying out testing to make “detailed submissions” to the Department of Housing but “we don’t have the definitive figure”. 

“I’m not being evasive, but that work and that research needs to be done,” he told RTÉ’s Prime Time last night, adding the cost of the redress scheme could be higher than €1.5 billion.

The Government told homeowners affected by mica that it is committed to finding a “workable resolution” to the issues, with O’Brien having proposed establishing a working group to identify and address outstanding mica issues and costs.

It comes as the Dáil adopted a Sinn Fein motion calling for a 100% redress scheme for people affected by mica. As expected, the Government did not oppose the motion.

Earlier Tuesday, thousands of people gathered in Dublin for a protest demanding a 100% redress scheme for housing defects caused by the mineral mica.

Families living in crumbling homes were joined by supporters as they travelled from Donegal and Mayo to take part in the major protest. Demonstrators gathered outside the Convention Centre in Dublin ahead of the planned march to Leinster House.

Campaigners have criticised the existing Government redress scheme for an upfront charge of €5,000 for access, failing to provide alternative accommodation and covering 90% of costs, compared to 100% covered by the pyrite scheme, which also involved faulty materials resulting in damage to homes.

However, speaking in the Dáil as protesters gathered outside, Taoiseach Micheal Martin declined to commit to this when asked by Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald.

He instead called for a six-week process to analyse the issues caused by the Mica scandal and “iron out” issues with the redress scheme.

He told the Dáil: “Our view is we should set in train a timebound process, lasting about six weeks, involving the Mica Action Group, representatives from the different counties, involving the local authorities, and also the department to work on the scheme.”

Following the protest, a group of residents held a meeting with O’Brien about the redress scheme. After the meeting, a spokeswoman for O’Brien said: 

“Minister O’Brien accepted a letter on behalf of the group outlining concerns with the current Defective Concrete Block Scheme.

“He assured them that Government are committed to providing a workable resolution to the issues which have arisen.

“The minister has proposed establishing a focused, time-bound working group, between department officials, Mica action group representatives from Mayo and Donegal and local authority representatives.

“The working group would identify and address outstanding issues with the operation of the scheme.

“The group would report back to the minister by July 31st with potential actions which he would then bring to Government.”

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The Government has acknowledged that mica issues may have affected other buildings, including community centres as well as schools and hospitals.

- Additional reporting from PA

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Adam Daly

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