By Keith Bourke
Pyrite homeowners in Mayo are determined to make changes to the Defective Concrete Blocks Scheme that has been approved by Cabinet.
The Government signed off on legislation this week for a redress scheme for homes affected by pyrite and mica, while counties Clare and Limerick are to be added to the scheme as the €2.2bn projected cost of rebuilding mica-affected homes is set to rise by €500m.
The Government 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 to €161 per square foot is also part of the deal.
Excessive amounts of mica and pyrite have been detected in the concrete blocks of more than 5,000 homes in Donegal and Mayo, causing the bricks to crumble and putting the structures at risk of collapse.
The Taoiseach told the Dáil that the Government had agreed to the expanded scheme because ‘it is time to move on this’.
“We need to get going,” Micheál Martin said.
“We need to get on with it.”
Mayo homeowners say there are a number of items absent from the scheme that are needed to enable people to adequately rebuild their homes.
Martina Hegarty, of the North Mayo Pyrite Group, says there needs to be continued discussion on the €420,000 cap.
“That was announced last November but as everyone knows there is inflation of 9.5% at the moment and homeowners still won’t be able to rebuild their homes, particularly larger-sized homes,” said Ms Hegarty.
The Crossmolina homeowner welcomed the slight increase in the square foot rate provided for rebuilding smaller homes but fears it does not go far enough.
“It’s an improvement but what we are seeing on the ground is at least a square foot rate of €175 and rising,” she said.
The north Mayo group is also determined to see homeowners who are willing to downsize adequately compensated.
“It’s not that people are trying to get extra, you’re trying to get that 100% redress to avoid getting yourself into debt or having to choose whether your child can go to college or not,” said Ms Hegarty.
“From our perspective, this is definitely not over. The Bill isn’t going to be enacted until possibly July 15. That’s the date we have at the moment. There is definitely room to work with the department and our local TDs,” she said.
Condensed pre-legislative scrutiny gets underway on Thursday. “This is going to be an opportunity for the homeowners to sit in front of the Housing Committee and really explain what is happening,” said Ms Hegarty.
So far, approximately 240 homeowners in Mayo have applied for redress with Mayo Co Council working its way through a backlog. It is expected that more than 1,000 property owners in the county will ultimately apply.