By Dominic McGrath, PA
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said a revised mica compensation scheme will be “one of the largest financial support packages ever announced” in Ireland.
Mr Coveney, speaking at leaders’ questions in the Dáil on Tuesday, said he expects a final report on a compensation scheme will be presented to the Government by the Minister of Housing in a “number of weeks”.
Campaigners want 100% redress for homeowners whose properties were built using defective bricks containing excessive amounts of the mineral mica in Donegal, Mayo and other counties.
Last week a draft report, compiled by a working group set up by Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien, did not recommend 100% redress, as demanded by campaigners.
Campaigners have rejected that conclusion and have rubbished the report.
Mr Coveney told the Dáil, following a question from Donegal TD Thomas Pringle, that there was “equally strong feelings on both sides of the house” regarding mica.
He said the final compensation scheme will be “one of the largest financial support packages ever announced in relation to anything, so we need to get it right and listen to people”.
He described it as “hugely expensive but necessary”.
The Mr Coveney said he did not believe any redress scheme would be finalised before the budget next week.
“I don’t have an exact date for you,” Mr Coveney told the Dáil.
He also said that letters from the Minister for Housing to opposition politicians, asking for their input and views on how to resolve the mica issue, were a “genuine” effort to achieve consensus.
Mr Pringle called it a “sickeningly transparent PR stunt”.
The current cost to the Government for the revised scheme is €1.4 billion, according to the working group 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.”
Over the weekend, Minister for Agricultre and Donegal TD Charlie McConalogue said he expected more homeowners impacted by mica to come forward in the months ahead.
Mr Coveney said it would be a matter for Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe to answer how the cost of the mica scheme would be factored into the Budget process.
Mr Pringle accused the Government of “kicking the can down the road” and said he backed the families’ rejection of the report.
Affected homeowners are expected to gather in Dublin later this week for another protest calling for 100% redress.