Republic of Ireland news

Mica scandal: Thousands protesting in Dublin to demand 100% redress

Demonstrators on O'Connell Street, Dublin take part in the protest in support of Mica home owners whose properties are crumbling due to defective blocks containing excessive deposits of the mineral Mica and demand that the Government improve a redress scheme to provide 100% of the rebuild and repair costs. Picture by Brian Lawless/PA Wire 
James Ward, PA

Thousands of protesters have begun marching through Dublin to demand 100% redress for homes affected by the mica scandal.

Home-owners and families from Co Donegal and elsewhere hit by the devastating effects of the mineral on their properties have vowed to show the world the “despair and waking nightmare” of living in a crumbling home.

Dozens of buses carried people from Donegal, Mayo, Limerick, Claire, Leitrim and Sligo to the capital to march from the Garden of Remembrance to Government Buildings from 12pm.

Paddy Diver, one of the organisers of the demonstration, said: “We protest because our families are living in homes that are falling apart.

“We protest because we are being left with the financial, mental and physical burden of a crisis that was not our making.

“Homes are falling apart because they were made with blocks with latent defects.”

Writing on Twitter, he added: “Government regulations allowed them to self-certify the product.

“BOTH manufacturer and Government are at fault here. The thousands left with the devastation these blocks leave behind ARE NOT TO BLAME.”

Campaigners want a scheme to help families whose homes have been destroyed or damaged by mica, a mineral that can absorb water, due to building blocks cracking and crumbling.

The Government has faced criticism for only offering 90% under the current scheme, leaving property owners with significant bills to repair or rebuild homes.

Campaigners have blamed a lack of building regulations and oversight of materials.

An estimated 5,000 homes in Co Donegal are affected by defective bricks, with thousands more understood to be in Counties Sligo, Clare and Limerick.

A report found that the cost of a full compensation scheme could reach 3.2 billion euro.

Earlier this week, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien said Friday’s protest should be the last time mica-affected home-owners feel they need to demonstrate.

He told the Dail on Wednesday that he will bring a proposal to Government in the coming weeks on a revised compensation scheme.

A draft report, compiled by a working group set up by Mr O’Brien, did not recommend 100% redress, as demanded by campaigners.

The minister said he understands the “tragedy” that affected home-owners face.

“We’re committed to enhancing this scheme and progress has been made on it,” he said. “I’m not going to delay.

“We have some work to do and we’re doing that work right now.

“The next step is I will be bringing proposals and working through options to the three party leaders and indeed to my Cabinet colleagues, and the Government will then make a decision in due course.

“I respect the right of people to protest and I always have.

“I did say (to home-owners) that my work would not be completed by October 8. They realised that and accepted that and we had a good and open discussion around it.”

The minister said he is working with Attorney General Paul Gallagher to see how far the Government can legally pursue anyone responsible for building homes with defective materials.

“I’m looking at all options,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Those who are responsible should be held accountable.”

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