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Monday 6 February 2023 Dublin: 5°C
GOOGLE STREET VIEW Donegal County House in Lifford
# defective blocks
Donegal County Council meeting adjourned to address Mica redress protest outside
Senior members of the council went to hear the concerns and frustration of the crowd.

A MEETING OF Donegal County Council which featured campaigners and homeowners coping with Mica-affected blocks was adjourned this afternoon to consult with a Mica redress protest outside the building.

Five campaigners were invited to speak to the executive and councillors inside the council chamber to address a delay in the allocation of funding that would aid families in moving out of  homes that have suffered the most damage from crumbling blocks.

The protest began at the council office in Lifford 10am, with those in attendance seen cheering in social media videos as Mica campaigner Paddy Diver was allowed into the building to speak at the 11am meeting.

Paddy Diver told the meeting that it was unacceptable for people living in condemned houses with black mould to wait for progress on their redress applications.

“Nobody has ever went out to them,”Diver said. “These people are living in houses that are condemned with damp and mould and children living in them. World leading expert Andreas Leeman was in one of them and walked out after 20 minutes coughing. Has anybody in Donegal County Council been in one of them? There hasn’t. Why?”

“We’re not here for written replies, we want action.”

Multiple campaigners in the meeting called on councillors to go outside and speak to the crowds, while Cathaoirleach of the council, Cllr Liam Blaney, replied that he was worried that would anger the crowd further and “it wouldn’t go any good.”

A councillor began to add that a motion was passed last week for the council to appoint a delegation to meet Housing Minister Daragh O’Brien, before he was interrupted by campaigners.

The meeting was then adjourned by Blaney, who said: “That’s what I mean by going outside, I’m afraid that it’ll add to everything that’s going on out there.”

He also thanked those in attendance.

Cllr Martin McDermott, Chair of the council’s Concrete Block Committee, was in attendance and told The Journal he understood the frustration of homeowners who have been affected.

“The chairman and the acting chief executive spoke to the general public when the meeting was adjourned and gave them an insight as to what’s happening and what’s going on and they promised that they would come back to them with Friday,” he said.

“I understand the anxiety and the stress the families are going through, I’m going through it myself, my house is to be demolished. It’s not a nice place to be.”

“We’re talking about 10 families that need help. This has been put to the Department of Housing  four or five weeks ago, we’ve been pushing and pushing the department to at least make €15k that has been passed available as an emergency measure.”

The meeting was later reconvened for regular business.

Earlier today,  Seamus Devenney, speaking to local radio station Highland Radio, said that he had no faith in politics to solve the issue of Mica-affected homes.

“Something outside the box is needed, the political representatives we have can’t affect the change we need. They’ve been trying for 12 years but they’ve utterly failed.”

“We need something outside the box, perhaps it’s the legal route, maybe we could only get this through the courts. But it’s hard to believe that in 12 years time we could still be protesting.”

Chairperson of the Mica Group redress group, Lisa Hone, was present in the meeting and told OceanFM that people are at the end of their tether and “can’t see daylight” out of their current situations.

“We feel there should be emergency housing or at least emergency funding that should not impact on the final remediation allowance that people are given for those in the most distressed homes.”

“We need a plan for modular housing going forward because there is nowhere near enough accommodation available in the county, we need testing of foundations because homeowners don’t even know if what they’re building on is fit for purpose.

“It’s been left that the council have said they’ll come back to us at the end of the week with a response. One can only hope that the strength of feeling shown was enough to impact on people who can make changes here.”

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