*Seamus & Mary Hanley show the extent of the pyrite damage to their home. Photograph: Joe Buckley
CLARE should not be waiting on a pilot scheme to be completed in another county before its social housing stock has access to a defective concrete block scheme, a Shannon representative has said.
At present there is no Government grant scheme for social houses affected by defective concrete blocks. In July, Clare was officially recognised in the grant for homeowners with defective blocks following an campaign of almost three years.
A study by Clare Pyrite Action Group (CPAG) chairperson, Dr Martina Cleary last year found that more than 1,000 homes in the county could have pyrite. Homes were affected in 38 locations across the county including Newmarket-on-Fergus, Ennis, Kilkee, Kilrush, Sixmilebridge, Cratloe, Feakle, Kilkishen and Shannon.
350 of Clare County Council’s own housing stock are understood to have pyrite.
In a proposal before the September meeting of Clare County Council, Cllr Donna McGettigan (SF) stated, “The understanding is that the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage are planning to operate a social housing pilot scheme in Donegal for properties affected by defective concrete blocks and once the findings for this scheme is complete, they will then roll this out elsewhere”.
She felt a similar scheme should be established in Co Clare. “Clare in its own right should not have to wait on a pilot scheme to be completed in another County in order to receive its own scheme for defective concrete blocks, this will then give people living in these houses affected by defective concrete blocks a clearer picture as to when they can expect a secure, safe home”.
Work of Council engineer Conor Marrinan in rolling out the current scheme for Clare homeowners was praised by Cllr McGettigan as she stressed the need for the social housing equivalent to be made available. “Five Council estates are understood to have pyrite, Clare is one of the worst counties affected, why should these people who are paying rent have to wait until another county gets their scheme rolled out until they have theirs. We need to send out a clear message to open the scheme immediately, we’re a good county in our own right and we need to get this sorted for once and for all”.
Supporting the proposal, Cllr Ian Lynch (IND) commented, “there are a lot of unknowns but if your house is suspected of pyrite it is a traumatic experience, there are a lot of structural issues inherent to pyrite, the previous schemes that went ahead had a lot of time put into them but they weren’t the greatest”. Homeowners have found the current scheme “quite onerous,” he said.
Chair of the Social Development SPC, Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) acknowledged, “There is an issue with some of the social housing, what the extent is I don’t know but when it comes to addressing the deficits the Council will need more resources to provide more accommodation while the additional schemes are put in place”.
Councils should have a separate scheme, Cllr John Crowe (FG) maintained, “it is ridiculous when we’re under pressure as regards housing in the county and we have houses with the defective blocks”.
Support was also voiced by Cllr Clare Colleran Molloy (FF) who queried if a survey was completed on the social housing stock to which Cllr Mary Howard (FG) responded that units from social housing developments in Ennis were affected.
A facilitator has been appointed within the Council, Adrian Headd an engineer within the local authority’s housing department confirmed. “We are aware of fifty specific properties which would tend to advise there is more in those locations through time, we haven’t a full survey of all the housing stock, we are awaiting details on the scheme and the assessment that will be required, we have continued to stress the need. We will continue to do that and fight for a scheme for Clare”.