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Housing Minister to meet mica-affected homeowners as thousands to march on Dublin

Eamon Ryan said people affected do need and will get government support.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/RN

THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE affected by the Mica scandal are expected to march on Leinster House later today, with Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien set to meet families over the redress scheme. 

Campaigners have criticised the Government redress scheme and are calling for 100% of their costs, with many of the homes facing demolition.

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

The Defective Block Scheme was launched in January 2020 but families said it is lacking and have questioned why they were not granted the same treatment as families affected by pyrite in the east of the country. 

Homeowners from Donegal, Mayo and Clare will gather outside the Convention Centre in Dublin, where the Dail is being held due to Covid-19 restrictions, at 1.30pm today.

From there, they will walk to Leinster House, for a demonstration between 3pm and 4pm.

Minister Eamon Ryan told Morning Ireland that Minister O’Brien will meet some of today’s demonstrators to look at how the redress scheme can be made better. 

“We all recognise that they do need to and will get government support,” said Ryan.  

A Sinn Féin motion calling for 100% redress for homeowners affected by Mica and Pyrite defective block in Donegal, Mayo, Clare and elsewhere will go before the Dáil later today. 

The Irish Examiner reports this morning that Cabinet is expected to approve a counter-motion to the  Sinn Féin motion.

Campaigners have criticised the 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.

“This was light touch regulation, self regulation, no regulation during the Celtic Tiger. Complete failure of the states to protect people’s interests and the state needs to protect everybody the same now,” Sinn Féin TD for Donegal Pádraig Mac Lochlainn told Morning Ireland. 

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien has warned the cost of the current redress scheme has already exceeded one billion euro but McLoughlin says that figure is “open to challenge” saying a full redress scheme is needed in which everybody is treated the same. 

The union Siptu have also come out in support of the campaign for 100% redress.

Organiser Kevin McKinney said: “There has been a clear failure to adequately police compliance with the regulations governing construction materials.

“These regulations are supposed to protect families from the issues that thousands are now having to endure.

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“Families have no choice but to continue to pay a mortgage for a home that is worthless.

“Many have been forced to move out of their homes due to them becoming unsafe, with some resorting to living in caravans as they cannot afford to rent.

“The Government has proposed a completely inadequate redress scheme for the homeowners affected. The owners of these homes are not at fault in anyway and should not be out of pocket for carrying out the remedial work required.

“What is needed is a commitment from the Government to provide the homeowners affected with 100% compensation for carrying out the work necessary to make their homes inhabitable.”

Our colleagues at Noteworthy want to examine how State contracts for major infrastructure projects are awarded, with a focus on companies who previously built or supplied materials that resulted in structural defects. See how you can support this project here

- With reporting from PA

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Adam Daly

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