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‘It is no way to live’ – pressure mounts of Housing Dept to extend pyrite scheme to Clare

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More than forty Clare homeowners are living in fear that their houses will crumble due to the presence of damaging materials in the building blocks used to construct them.

An action group has been established to seek the extension of the defective concrete blocks scheme, and the pyrite remediation scheme to Co Clare. It is currently only active in Donegal and Mayo but political pressure is mounting on the Department of Housing to apply it to affected homeowners in the Banner County.

To date, 35 to 40 houses in Clare have declared having issues with pyrite, a harmful mineral which is found in quarries that has led to a devastating impact on houses. “Most if not all of the 33 houses will have to be demolished if not rebuilt,” Senator Martin Conway (FG) stated when he brought the matter before the Seanad earlier this month seeking an extension of the scheme.

There are approximately 25 members of the Clare Pyrite Action Group with national exposure recently obtained. The countywide issue was also brought before a meeting of Clare County Council with the Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien (FF) urged to extend the schemes to the county.

This formal request following motions from Cllr Michael Begley (IND) Cllr Pat McMahon (FF), Cllr PJ Ryan (IND), Cllr Pat O’Gorman (FF), Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) and Cllr Shane Talty (FF) has been acknowledged by the Department of Housing with communication lines now open between it and the local authority.

“Any extension to the Defective Concrete Blocks Grants Scheme would require the same rigorous analysis as that which was put in place prior to the rollout of the scheme in Donegal and Mayo. It would also have to be the subject of budgetary discussions with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform,” a spokesperson for the Department outlined.

Extending the scheme was deemed as a necessity by Cllr McMahon. He flagged that the presence of pyrite and mica in building blocks when exposed to air “leads to intensive cracking and eventual collapse”.

A report to show how Clare “is as entitled as Donegal and Mayo to be put into the scheme,” must be compiled by the Council, Cllr O’Gorman felt. He added, “Everyday these people are going into bed and the problem is their head, they are inside in bed and hoping the house won’t fall down around them”.

All Oireachtas members should be made aware of the cause, Cllr Flynn suggested. “We’re not asking for a lot just the same, we all live on the same island”.

At one house affected in Fanore, “you can put through your first through a block,” Cllr Talty outlined. “It is like you have someone playing the tin whistle in every corner of the room because the wind is circling through the walls, it is no way to live”.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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