By James Ward, PA
Mica campaigners are in discussions to form a new political party to contest the next local elections in Donegal.
The move would send a warning shot to Government, with politicians in the north-west fearing for their seats as a result of the fallout from the defective block scandal.
It comes amid anger among affected homeowners that the proposed redress scheme did not meet expectations, as a result of a cap per square footage that is set to be reviewed in February.
Campaigner Paddy Diver said it is time “the people of Donegal started looking after Donegal”.
“We’re not going away, there’s plenty of things happening in the background. We are seriously in big talks about running candidates," he said.
“The councillors in there at the moment are far too quiet.
“I look around my own local place and I’m starting to delve into other stuff that doesn’t work for us. There’s nothing for youths to do in our town. Not even a basketball court, not a tennis court, there’s nothing.
“If I went into the council, I wouldn’t be sitting in the corner. I’d be making noise and I would be exposing people out there. The rest of the councillors around Donegal, they have to up their game.
“There’s not enough people doing their jobs out there.”
'The forgotten county'
Mr Diver said the party would not focus solely on Mica but address long-standing issues in Donegal, known locally as “the forgotten county” due to a perceived lack of funding and services throughout the years.
“It’s time now that the people of Donegal started looking after Donegal. The way the Healy-Raes look after Kerry is what we want,” he said.
“If the TDs in this county were looking after the people of Donegal, we wouldn’t be in the state we’re in today. For 10 years this has been going on. Are you telling me a TD shouldn’t have stopped this from happening?
“The warning signs were out there 10 years ago, even five years ago.
“I would love to go in there and make change, being honest. Because I would ruffle feathers. I wouldn’t be sitting in the corner, I’ll tell you that.”
Mr Diver said he has not yet decided if he will run himself, but has not ruled it out.
“One day I’m thinking I definitely would run. Another day I’m thinking, could I even make change? Would it annoy me too much?” he said.
“But, at the end of the day, if there’s one little mosquito in a room full of people, it would be a very annoying room to be in.
“We don’t know who’s running yet but I certainly wouldn’t rule it out.”
“We’re still in talks, we’re looking at a new party at the minute. But we’re still in talks as to the best way to go,” he added.
Mr Diver said he was heartbroken for the children of Donegal, many of whom are living in crumbling houses over Christmas.
“The children now, they’ve lost their childhood,” he said.
“Some of them are struggling, some of them are crying and their mental health is suffering.
“I know myself from talking to teachers the children’s grades are suffering badly this year.
“Donegal is turning into a sad place to live in, that’s being honest.
“This is impacting children, it’s impacting parents and it’s impacting old age pensioners.
“I had an old age pensioner on the phone to me the other day and she was crying, inconsolably.
“Christmas is here and she is heartbroken.”
Campaigners have slammed the Government’s revised redress scheme, which they say will leave homeowners facing bills of up to €65,000.
The scheme has been criticised for a cap of €145 per square foot, available only for the first 1,000 square feet, with a sliding scale in place thereafter.
Costs in Donegal County Council have come in at an average of €150 per square foot.
The cap is set to be reviewed by the Society of Chartered Surveyor Ireland (SCSI) in February.
Mr Diver has called on Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien to accept the decision of the SCSI when it is made, saying it would be “totally unfair” for him to make changes to the recommendation.
“If he can do that in February, that means he can pull a figure out of thin air,” he said.