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Mica campaigners say average homeowner will have to pay €65,000 under redress scheme

Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty today told the government to “go back to the drawing board”.

MICA CAMPAIGNERS HAVE said an average homeowner will be forced to find €65,000 to make up for shortfalls in the government’s redress scheme.

A new package announced yesterday capped the grant amount at €420,000. However it also includes a sliding scale method that will be applied to each property. 

Under the revised scheme, homeowners will be able to receive €145 for the first 1,000sq ft of a property.

It will reduce to €110 for the second 1,000sq ft, and the remainder will be set at a rate of €100 per square foot.

Campaigner and homeowner Michael Doherty today criticised the sliding-scale method as he said this will still result in costs that homeowners cannot meet. The Mica Action Group has said the government’s pricing per square metre does not reflect the real cost of the works required. 

Doherty also said the Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien did not mention the sliding scale when they spoke by phone hours before the scheme was publicly announced.

He said the minister’s decision not to mention it was “very disingenuous”.

“The average family in Donegal, based on 158 applications through the (Donegal) council offices meant that they were going to be €65,000 on average,” he said.

“That is unattainable for the families. Even in the smaller rooms, if we go down to a 1,700 square-foot house, we’re still €30,000 short.

“This is life-changing sums of money for people in Donegal.”

embedded262919751 Eddie McNamee at his mica-affected home in Gleneely, Co Donegal. Niall Carson / PA Niall Carson / PA / PA

Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty called on the government to scrap the sliding-scale plan and “go back to the drawing board”.

“Donegal County Council has told your government that the tender price that they have received from contractors to demolish and rebuild the first 43 houses is an average €150  per square foot,” Doherty said.

The government’s proposals go nowhere near that. This isn’t 100% redress. It’s nowhere near it. So you need to go back to the drawing board.

He welcomed other measures in the redress scheme including costs for renting and storage.

“The point here is that’s no use to families,” he added.

Doherty said families would have to pay anything from €45,000 to €65,000.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said the government had made a “very comprehensive response” to the mica issue.

“The scheme that was announced yesterday by the minister is expansive, an extra 800 million, 2.2 billion of a scheme to deal comprehensively with the issues that were raised by residents,” Martin told the Dail.

“Our only objective is to ensure that residents can get their homes rebuilt.”

Martin said the rates for square footage were indicative and would be updated next April.

“The minister will be working with Engineers Ireland in terms of the indicative costs going forward,” he added.

“This will take quite a number of years to get houses remediated and to get houses rebuilt.”

Doherty claimed that the Cabinet had “butchered” figures published by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI).

“The reality is, SCSI tells you that the cost of rebuilding a house in the north-west is a way higher than what is under this scheme,” the Donegal TD added.

“You have decided to take the figure and then butcher them through this economies of scale that will remain in the future.”

Martin went on to accuse Sinn Fein of “feigning outrage” around the campaign.

“I can see through you, deputy,” he added.

What I want to say to the residents and homeowners is, we’re working on this. I want no more delays. I want no more endless campaigning for the sake of the campaigning and exploiting it for political or electoral interest. My only interest now is the homeowners.

Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh said: “Yesterday’s announcement certainly didn’t meet people’s expectations, they didn’t meet my expectations.

“But the conversation I’ve had with my colleagues late last night, and I was also in touch with Darragh O’Brien this morning, they have an awareness too that there is a massive issue around this sliding scale.”

- With reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

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