By Dominic McGrath, PA
A senior Government Minister has said he remains committed to seeking 100 per cent redress for mica homeowners, despite a new report’s recommendations falling short of that goal.
Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue said on Sunday he was still backing the campaign by homeowners for 100 per cent compensation for properties damaged by mica.
Campaigners want 100 per cent redress for homeowners whose properties were built using defective bricks containing excessive amounts of the mineral mica in Donegal, Mayo and other counties.
Earlier this week, a draft report, compiled by a working group set up by Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien, did not recommend 100 per cent redress as demanded by campaigners.
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.
The Minister for Agriculture said that a 100 per cent redress scheme remained the ambition.
“I will be working with my Cabinet colleagues over the next period of time to deliver a scheme that will reflect that,” he told RTÉ.
“There has been significant progress made on this.”
He said he had no doubt many more mica-affected homeowners would come forward in the coming months, on top of the 1,500 homeowners who have already made themselves known.
Many of those are in Mr McConalogue’s home county of Donegal.
“There isn’t a family in the north of the county that doesn’t have a family member affected by this,” he said.
He acknowledged that any scheme for homeowners would be “expensive”.
Earlier, Peter Burke, a junior minister in the Department of Housing, said he could not say for certain whether mica-affected homeowners would have an answer from the Government on a revised redress scheme by the end of October.
“We’re on the one side. We set out a process to resolve this. There is no point taking cheap political shots,” Mr Burke said on Sunday.
“All these things have to be discussed.”
He said the coalition Government’s three party leaders, as well as Mr O’Brien and the Attorney General, would discuss the shape of an improved compensation scheme over the coming weeks.
Asked on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics programme about whether homeowners would have an answer by the end of October, Mr Burke said: “I can’t say for sure by the end of the month.”
Taoiseach Micheál Martin, during a visit to Rosslare Port on Friday, told reporters a decision will be made in the coming weeks.
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”.
Mr Martin said he was told by the Minister for Housing the “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”.
Homeowners have criticised the working group report, calling it “vague” and “lacking depth”.
Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty said on Sunday that the Government had a responsibility to families impacted by mica.
“The State needs to do right by these families. It is a huge blow that the working group hasn’t recommended 100 per cent redress,” he said.