Dominic McGrath, PA
The Taoiseach has said a decision will be made on the details of a mica compensation scheme in “the next number of weeks”.
Speaking at Rosslare Port on Friday, Micheál Martin told reporters the Government will continue considering the issue of a revised compensation scheme for homeowners and a decision will be made shortly.
A draft report, compiled by a working group set up by the Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien, did not recommend 100 per cent redress, as demanded by campaigners.
Campaigners want full redress for homeowners whose properties were built using defective bricks containing excessive amounts of the mineral mica.
The report, shared with homeowners late on Thursday night, suggests a revised scheme will not cover 100 per cent of the cost when a mica-affected property needs to be demolished and rebuilt.
Mr Martin said he spoke about the matter with Mr O’Brien on Friday morning.
“He said that report is made up of the submissions made by the working groups and a record of meetings. It’s not the final report that will come to us and certainly to the three party leaders and to Cabinet,” Mr Martin said.
“We will meet with the Minister and his officials in relation to this.
“But suffice to say, significant progress has been made in terms of the original scheme.
“The original scheme was not fit for purpose and significant progress was made on a number of fronts that would have been identified by homeowners as critically problematic.”
Mr Martin referenced “rental costs” as well as the “certification around houses that would have been refurbished or will be refurbished” as issues where progress had been made.
“We have to look at this in the round now and we will make a decision in the next number of weeks,” he said.
The current cost to the Government for the revised scheme is €1.4 billion, according to the report.
However, the working group said: “Based on the homeowners’ final submission the estimated costs of the changes requested could rise by €1.8 billion to €3.2 billion.”
In cases where a property can be fixed without demolition, a 100 per cent grant will be provided for “remediation options”.
Asked by reporters if there was a plan in place to prevent this happening again, Mr Martin said: “There is a regulatory framework there and there are regulations here. That’s a very important issue, which the Minister also intends to pursue.”
Mr Martin said: “It is not satisfactory that defective blocks of this kind would be on the market or would be used so freely in terms of housing building and in terms of other buildings as well. That’s just totally unacceptable. Individuals and people have responsibilities in this regard.”
Department of Housing figures suggest around 6,600 homes “may require remediation arising from defective concrete blocks”.
“This includes all potentially eligible privately owned homes in the counties of Donegal and Mayo and an estimate for homes in other local authority areas which may come into the scheme,” according to the draft report.
“This figure also includes an estimated 1,000 social homes which according to local authorities will need remediation.”
It is understood that a protest by mica campaigners will still take place in Dublin this month.
Eileen Doherty, from the Mica Action Group, was critical of the working group report.
“This does not reflect the significant body of work that the homeowner representatives contributed to the working group,” she said.
“This is not a paper that we’ve signed off on. This is the officials’ paper. It is lacking in detail. It is lacking in any depth. It is very vague.”
“I struggle to see in there where there are any recommendations.”
She told RTÉ radio that the campaign was committed to the target of 100 per cent redress.
“Why should families have to pick up the bill for an issue that was completely outside their control?”