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*Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien (FF) is shown the damage to Mary Hanley’s home in Drumline last August. Photograph: Joe Buckley

CO CLARE has been included an expanded Defective Concrete Block Scheme.

On Tuesday afternoon, Cabinet signed off on the inclusion of Clare and Limerick in the scheme, at an estimated cost of €500m. Prior to this, only Donegal and Mayo had been included in the redress scheme, the cost of which has risen from €2.2bn to €2.7bn.

Cabinet’s decision gives operational effect to the enhanced scheme announced last November with a potential 100% grant subject to a €420,000 cap. A second cap of €145-161 per square foot is also part of the deal. It is understood the scheme does not cover another defective mineral – pyrrhotite – which has been raised by campaigners.

Between 620 and 678 properties are potentially affected in Clare according to estimates from Clare County Council. The Clare Pyrite Action Group have identified 90 properties built between 1990 and 2010 contaminated with pyrite but calculate that over 1000 homes are affected. Eleven stand-alone buildings are affected or potentially affected and three different local authority built estates have proven to have pyrite in their blocks.

Since September 2020, the Action Group founded by Dr Martina Cleary have been campaigning for inclusion in the redress scheme. The announcement this week is viewed as a step forward but homeowners are wary regarding the criteria for eligibility and the provision for consultation.

Clare TD, Cathal Crowe (FF) said the inclusion of the county in the redress scheme was “significant but by no means is it the end of the road”. He stated, “The Cabinet sign-off indicates a follow through on a government commitment to provide redress for Clare homeowners but there are further stages ahead, including the preparation of legislation to give effect to redress.

Deputy Crowe added, “The impact of pyrite is very obvious on the structure of these homes, but it has also caused untold mental strain and hardship for the families concerned, as I’ve seen first-hand. Today’s announcement certainly builds momentum around redress but it’s now important that the terms and conditions of the redress application scheme and the particulars around how an individual can draw down funding is clarified and that we provide the best possible redress for homeowners. It’s also vital that the government continue to pursue the concrete block manufacturers that sold these defective blocks. A parallel legal process must get underway to ensure that these companies pay a significant penalty for the damage that their defective blocks have caused”.

Violet-Anne Wynne TD (IND) has praised the Action Group for their “resilience” shown over the past 21 months.

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