ONE OF THE COUNTRY’s biggest construction companies has been named as the one of the suppliers of defective concrete blocks in Clare.
Founder of the Clare Pyrite Action Group, Dr Martina Cleary appeared before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage where she claimed that over two thirds of the ninety properties with pyrite that were surveyed in the county shared the same suppliers.
She had been critical over the lack of time given to them before the committee. “After two years of arduous campaigning for inclusion in this scheme and only two working days to prepare for the meeting on behalf of County Clare, the committee may understand it was difficult to decide exactly what to say in five minutes”.
As per the survey, the Crusheen woman claimed, Roadstone in Bunratty and Ryan’s Quarry in Toonagh have accounted for the bulk of the defective blocks sold to affected properties in Co Clare.
Officials in the Department of Housing “have not been presented with any evidence against any company,” the sitting heard.
Clare TD, Michael McNamara (IND) questioned if the Department had intensions of pursuing suppliers of defective concrete blocks. “How many people in Clare, for example, who have found their houses are now defective, could have a claim they could pursue or are the majority of cases for one reason or another not legally pursuable,” he asked.
In response, Dr Cleary outlined, “Of the 90 that have been surveyed, approximately 68% have identified the supplier as CRH Roadstone Bunratty or Ryan’s Toonagh. They identified that through receipts, through direct purchase, through clerks and even through connections. Those that are unknown are usually second or third home purchasers. It may be that the builder has gone out of business, is deceased or cannot be identified, or it is a development on a housing estate and they would know where the blocks came from”.
Attempts to tackle the suppliers have not been fruitful, she admitted. “Over the past two years, we have observed that very few solicitors are prepared to take on the power and might of the biggest company in the country, which is our supplier. It is the responsibility of the State to address that. There is no point in asking us, the homeowners, the questions. It is the responsibility of the State and all its legal might to answer that question. Regarding blaming the fact that it is the taxpayers’ money; we are the taxpayers. This Bill will be a double charged on to us. It is the Government’s responsibility to pursue these people”.
Deputy McNamara maintained, “It is right that the State step in to try to remedy this horrendous situation for people. Equally, it is right that the Exchequer should be compensated by those who supplied dangerous material, particularly when they did so for profit”.
He added, “It would be obscene if the State was going to pay out €3 billion and the only recovery mechanism is a levy on the industry generally, including those who complied and those who did not comply equally. In any event, all of that levy will be transferred to homeowners, future homeowners and people who are rebuilding their homes because of a pyrite claim in the first place. Some of the wrongdoers were named earlier. One of them is one of the biggest construction companies in Ireland, CRH”. The Scariff native said of CRH “this is a company with deep pockets”.