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Mica scandal: Minister says devastation of homeowners 'not being ignored' by government

Cabinet was told today that 433 people in Donegal have engaged with the scheme so far.

Affected homeowners have said the grants will not cover the kind of extensive work needed to make their homes safe.
Affected homeowners have said the grants will not cover the kind of extensive work needed to make their homes safe.

MINISTER FOR HOUSING Darragh O’Brien has said the impact of homeowners with Pyrite or defective Mica blocks in their homes is not being ignored by the government.

Families in Donegal and Mayo have recently staged protests over their dissatisfaction with the State scheme that was set up to help them fix the significant structural damage to their homes.

Homeowners with defective concrete blocks containing the mineral muscovite Mica have said many families cannot even afford the €5,000 Mica test required to initially apply for the scheme.

They have also argued that the grants will not cover the level of work required on their homes, some of which have to be completely demolished and then rebuilt.

The Defective Concrete Blocks remediation scheme opened for applications in June 2020 and it has five options ranging from external wall replacement (€49,500) to full demolition and rebuild (€247,500). The scheme allows owners to claim up to 90% of the cost up to those limits.

Cabinet was told today that 433 people in Donegal have engaged with the scheme so far. Homeowners in Mayo with issues in their homes due to Pyrite are also covered under this grant scheme. 

After the Cabinet meeting, Minister O’Brien in a statement said he has met with representatives, action groups and local authorities on the matter in recent weeks and that “the devastation and stress of affected homeowners was not being underestimated or ignored by government”.

His department said limits are a feature of grant schemes and ensure that the schemes can be budgeted for with the potential financial liability known at all times and also to ensure that the available budget can benefit the majority of properties and the maximum number of people.

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“Where there are issues arising, both my department and I are continuing to liaise with officials, local authorities and local action groups on how they may be overcome,” O’Brien said.

“I visited Co Donegal last August to officially open the scheme and acknowledged that overcoming this issue is a major challenge. I met with the Mica action group in early February 2021 and requested further information from them in relation to their concerns with the scheme. My department and I have been working through their document which we received five weeks ago and we are liaising with other departments and agencies to figure out how best to address some of the concerns raised.

“The existing scheme was informed by the work of an expert panel and finalised in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. As such, any changes to the scheme would require a whole of government approach.”

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