Housing Minister to engage with thousands expected in Dublin over mica protest

Families and supporters are travelling from Donegal and Mayo to seek a 100 per cent redress scheme over the defective houses
Housing Minister to engage with thousands expected in Dublin over mica protest

By Cate McCurry and James Ward, PA

The Minister for Housing will engage with thousands of demonstrators expected in Dublin today demanding a 100 per cent redress scheme for homes and properties affected by mica.

Speaking on his way into Cabinet this morning, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said substantive changes would be made to the current scheme.

“We don’t want homeowners to be... significantly disadvantaged, we want to help them to get their houses restored to what they had anticipated when they bought their houses originally, and the scheme that’s there will be [a] very substantive scheme,” he said.

“We will work through this with the mica action group and the Minister is going to engage with them.”

The huge protest is planned to take place on Tuesday, with families and supporters travelling from Donegal and Mayo to take part. Dozens of buses are to arrive in Dublin later today to take part in the demonstration.

Defective building blocks containing the mineral mica have caused cracks and fissures to open up in an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 homes primarily in the two counties.

Minister meeting

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan also said the Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien, would meet with the protesters.

“I think Minister Darragh O’Brien is going to meet them and yes, he is already engaged and saying we are going to look at the redress scheme and see how we can make it work better,” he said.

“We all recognise that they do need and will get Government support and he is going to meet them today and will look at the arrangements.”

Demonstrators are expected to gather outside the Convention Centre in Dublin before moving on to Leinster House.

Campaigners have criticised the Government redress scheme and are calling for 100 per cent of their costs to be covered, with many of the homes facing demolition.

The Government has acknowledged that it may have affected other buildings, including community centres as well as schools and hospitals.

Minister O’Brien has previously warned the cost of the current redress scheme has already exceeded €1 billion.

Campaigners have criticised the scheme for an upfront charge of €5,000 for access, failing to provide alternative accommodation and covering 90 per cent of costs, compared to 100 per cent covered by the Pyrite scheme, which also involved faulty materials resulting in damage to homes.

It comes after Ireland international football boss Stephen Kenny lent his voice to the growing numbers supporting the campaign in a video posted online on Monday.

He said: “I lived in Donegal for many years and I’ve seen first hand families being so distressed because their houses are literally disintegrating before their eyes.

“They’re unsure if they can live in their homes, where will they live. They can never sell their homes.

“It’s a huge number of houses. It’s so stressful for them, because they’ve put themselves out there with their families, getting substantial mortgages. Trying to do the right thing, with very little redress.

“We really hope a solution can be found, a fair and equitable solution for all the families. Because they’re hard working people and they deserve a fair solution.”

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