*Senator Roisin Garvey. Photograph: Natasha Barton.
Clare’s inclusion in a defective concrete block scheme has been assured by the Minister for Housing, a Government Senator has claimed while members of the county’s pyrite action group have warned that thousands of homes are affected.
Addressing a meeting of the Clare Pyrite Action Group, Senator Roisin Garvey (GP) said when she last spoke with Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien (FF) on the scheme she stressed that pyrite and mica “was a Clare problem as well”.
“I was told categorically that Clare would be part of a defective concrete block scheme,” the Inagh woman stated and clarified that there was no mention of mica redress or pyrite’s omission from potential compensation.
Political commitments have been forthcoming but Clare needs to fight to be in the door of the working group alongside Donegal and Mayo, Senator Timmy Dooley (FF) outlined. Senator Martin Conway (FG) felt it was “a question of equality, what happens in Donegal has to happen in Clare” while Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne (SF) was adamant the county need to be included “as soon as possible”.
Comments from Senator Garvey were welcomed by Feakle’s Ted Harrington, an affected homeowner but he believed different stages of redress should not exist. Cllr Joe Cooney (FG) said the possibility of Clare’s inclusion was a positive, “we want to see these houses put right, that should be our focus going forward”.
Founder of the Clare Pyrite Action Group, Dr Martina Cleary argued that the mooted figures of redress in the scheme for mica were flawed. A draft report carried out by a working group on the defective concrete blocks grant scheme calculated that costs of repairs could hit €3.2bn for mica while €400m has been reported as the amount for counties impacted by pyrite. “How will €400m cover five counties and there is over €3bn for Donegal,” she queried.
Deputy Cathal Crowe (FF) acknowledged “the figures are flawed”. He was adamant “redress needs to happen”. Senator Dooley felt the scheme for Donegal and Mayo was “not fit for purpose” but noted it was “the only concrete scheme that exists”, the Mountshannon native said a new scheme was due to be published by the Department of Housing in the coming weeks as he voiced his disappointment that Dr Cleary was not included in the working group.
“Our aim is to be included in the scheme,” Vice Chair of the Action Group, Mary Hanley said. “There is no doubt our houses will have to be demolished. There are ten more houses on my road with pyrite that are not here tonight, there are at least 1000 homes in Clare affected with hundreds between Newmarket-on-Fergus and Shannon,” she flagged.
Dr Cleary said that the current scheme was likely to only fix five houses per year, “what will you do to get more money,” she asked the Oireachtas members. “The first thing is to get on the scheme,” Deputy Crowe replied as he predicted it was set to become “a bigger problem”.