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Mica protesters vow to continue demonstrations if 100% redress demands not met

Tens of thousands protested in Dublin calling for full redress.

Updated Oct 8th 2021, 7:20 PM

MICA PROTESTORS HAVE vowed they will continue to stage demonstrations until they receive 100% redress

Tens of thousands of people from Donegal, Mayo, Sligo and Limerick flooded the capital on Friday to demand the Government covers all the costs for homes that are crumbling due to defective blocks.

Amid huge disruption in Dublin city centre, with roads blocked and public transport unable to move, campaigner Paddy Diver vowed the protests will continue if their demands are not met.

He told the PA news agency at the protest: “Our backs are to the wall, we have nothing left to lose. We had to come down here and show (housing minister) Darragh O’Brien that we’re taking no more bullshit.

“We’ve 30,000 people down today. If we have to come down again, we can do the same damage with 500 people. We’re not going away. We’ll do sit-downs on the M50, we can close the ports.”

Diver revealed the campaigners are considering running candidates in the next election.

“We’re sick of the false promises. This has been going on for 10 years,” he said.

“Don’t let anybody forget that when they’re saying it will cost two billion euro to fix these homes, it would not be anywhere near that if the Government had done their job and listened when we told them.

“They knew that they’re defective blocks. They set up a scheme because of defective blocks, but they never stopped the problem from happening.”

Mica redress march 006 Source: Leah Farrell

Dozens of buses carried people from Donegal, Mayo, Limerick, Claire, Leitrim and Sligo to the capital to march from the Garden of Remembrance to Customs House, where the department of housing is located, at noon on Friday.

A chorus of boos greeted Donegal TD and Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue when he attempted to address the crowd. Organisers pleaded with those gathered to treat the minister with “respect”.

When eventually allowed to speak, McConalogue backed the calls for 100% redress.

“I recognise, and we recognise, the massive responsibility on us to you. The massive blight that this issue has been on families lives for many years now,” he said.

“The massive daily stress and nightly stress that this issue means in terms of people being able to live a normal life and not being able to do so.

“I want to be absolutely clear in my support for 100% redress. As a Cabinet minister, I am working for that.”

But speaking in Belfast, Taoiseach Micheal Martin said the details of the redress scheme would not be ready in time for Tuesday’s budget.

Addressing the crowd, Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said:

“We’re here to tell you very simply, that we support 100% redress for every family, for every home that has been affected by mica and pyrite. End of story, full stop.”

She added: “The minister and the Government can run but they cannot hide, they cannot hide from this tide of passion and determination and they certainly can’t hide from Paddy Diver.

“I want to thank you for this campaign and I want to thank you for demonstrating that when you take a stand, you can make a difference.”

Campaigner Eileen Doherty said: “We are sick of being treated as second-class citizens and as the forgotten county.

“We are not to blame, we did nothing wrong. The Government presided over a system of self-certification, light-touch regulation and lack of adherence to existing Irish and EU legislation, which caused this crisis.”

Campaigners want a scheme to help families whose homes have been destroyed or damaged by mica, a mineral that can absorb water, due to building blocks cracking and crumbling.

The Government has faced criticism for only offering 90% under the current scheme, leaving property owners with significant bills to repair or rebuild homes.

Campaigners have blamed a lack of building regulations and oversight of materials.

An estimated 5,000 homes in Co Donegal are affected by defective bricks, with thousands more understood to be in Counties Sligo, Clare and Limerick.

A report found that the cost of a full compensation scheme could reach €3.2 billion.

A spokesperson for the Housing Minister said no decisions had yet been made in relation to an enhanced redress scheme.

“Minister O’Brien is acutely aware of the urgency of this matter and will continue discussions on proposals for an enhanced scheme with department officials and his Cabinet colleagues over the coming weeks with a view to bringing a memo to Cabinet in the next two weeks,” they said.

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“Enhancements to the scheme will need to be agreed by Government and absolutely no decisions have been made yet in relation to an enhanced Defective Concrete Block Scheme.”

Earlier this week, O’Brien said today’s protest should be the last time mica-affected homeowners feel they need to demonstrate.

He told the Dail on Wednesday that he will bring a proposal to Government in the coming weeks on a revised compensation scheme.

A draft report, compiled by a working group set up by O’Brien, did not recommend 100% redress, as demanded by campaigners.

The minister said he understands the “tragedy” that affected homeowners face and that he is working with Attorney General Paul Gallagher to see how far the Government can legally pursue anyone responsible for building homes with defective materials.

“I’m looking at all options,” O’Brien said, “Those who are responsible should be held accountable.”

Mica redress march 002 (l to r) Liam Devine, Lidia Fagan, Ryan Fagan, Jennifer Fagan and Sarah Fagan as they gathered at the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin today Source: Leah Farrell

The campaigners held a slow-moving protest on the M50 motorway this morning as they travelled to the city centre of the capital.

“We’ve still not got an answer, we need to end this torture and we need to end it now. We shouldn’t have to come the whole way to Dublin from Donegal to stand up for our families and for our mental health,” Diver told TheJournal ahead of the protest.

Gardaí attended the scene to monitor the slow-moving traffic and the force encouraged motorists to use alternative routes where possible.

Following the motorway demonstration, Diver claimed responsibility for the traffic delays.

“If I made you late for work this morning tell your employer Paddy Diver is to blame, and that my DMs are always open,” he wrote on Twitter.

- With reporting from Céimin Burke 

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