Mica 100% redress campaigners line Buncrana Main Street to keep up pressure on government

Local families lined the Buncrana Main Street this week as the Donegal mica campaign kept up pressure on the government.

Monday, 9th August 2021, 9:53 am

Campaigner Paddy Diver was among those who attended the rally on Wednesday.

He told the ‘Journal’ the drive for 100% redress will be maintained whether the Dáil is in recess or not.

“I want protests like this in Buncrana to be happening in every town in the county.

The Long family, from Inch Island, took part in the Mica Protest held in Buncrana on Wednesday afternoon last. Photo: George Sweeney. DER2131GS – 043

“There are no second chances here. There are going to be no reruns. If we don’t get 100% we are not going to get a second bite of the cherry.

“We want the whole of Ireland to get behind Donegal. Instead of us going down to Dublin with, say 15,000, the last time, we want 100,000. We want Ireland to stand up for the people of Donegal. That’s the aim. There should be a 100,000 people there.

“We are calling out to the real, true Irish citizens. If this was happening in Cork, I’d like to think we could get a couple of buses that would leave Donegal and head down and support Cork if they were in a mica crisis.”

While the people of Inishowen continue to mobilise work has also been going on behind the scenes with the defective blocks working group.

Winnie Noone, from Buncrana, pictured at the Mica Protest held in the town on Wednesday afternoon last.Photo: George Sweeney. DER2131GS – 041

The Donegal and Mayo family representatives, in a statement, said: “The working group meetings concluded last week with the wider defective blocks working group. These will reconvene in early September.

“In the interim we have been very busy. This ‘pause’ with the Department discussions has afforded us the time to take time to examine how the working group and the defective blocks scheme process is working (or not) and to work on how it can be improved. As such we have had a number of meetings in the last week.

“Family representatives from Donegal and Mayo met on Tuesday, August 3, with Joe McHugh TD (Donegal) and Dara Calleary TD (Mayo) to discuss some of our concerns and the pace of the discussions with the existing working group. We reiterated the need for this group to focus on the need for 100% redress for families and to work towards that goal.

“Both Joe and Dara acknowledged our concerns and will speak to their political colleagues in both parties to communicate the urgent need to support families affected in both counties in delivering a scheme that is truly fit for purpose. We plan to meet again in a few weeks’ time.”

Mr. Diver, meanwhile, said he will continue to raise awareness nationwide.

“They know there are more counties coming, Tipperary and Clare. They are afraid that if they give the 100% they are going to have to do it again. The bottom line is, we in rural parts of the country cannot let them discriminate against us. They gave Dublin 100% for the pyrite scheme. They have to do the same for us. Dublin put up a big fight for it. We are going to do the same. We are in the biggest fight of our lives.”

The Donegal and Mayo family representatives on the defective blocks working group have said a number of fruitful meetings took place this week.

On Wednesday the group had its first meeting with the Department of Housing to discuss learnings from the pyrite scheme and to identify expertise needed to enhance the existing defective blocks scheme.

“This was a very positive and constructive meeting and we plan two meetings a week from next week to discuss and try to find ways and bring in expertise as is needed to assist us,” they said in a statement.

“Michael Carr (Business Consultant and Project Manager), who has been assisting us for the last number of months, was also on this call and brings significant expertise to the group to help bring ideas and identify specialist expertise to these discussions around getting a more streamlined process in place. This is critical as we look forward to many more applications coming in and how these can best be managed to enable homes to get fixed more expediently. Next week we also hope to have Engineers Ireland representation in these meetings where the group will hear first hand the concerns from engineers over the existing scheme (i.e outer leaf replacement versus demolish, state guarantee, the lack of a remediation cert for our homes etc.)”

The group is scheduled to meet again on Monday.

“It is important for you all to know that we are still working away in the background and to know that there is a lot of very important and critical work going on in August. I truly feel this will put us in a much better place and enables us to be much more informed as we go into September for the final phase of discussions,” the statement read.

Paddy Diver said the visibility and awareness campaign will go on as talks continue. He said he anticipates the working group presenting its case around September 15 and the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien to responding by the end of that month.

If the minister falls short on the campaign’s demand for 100% redress Mr. Diver fully intends another protest in Dublin.

He said he is hopeful of a big turn out if it comes to that.

“We have to stand up to this government. We cannot lie down to this government and accept 90/10. We just can’t. We have to get it over the line. If we land down there with 1,000 we’ve lost. If we land down with 100,000 we’ve won. We’re trying to harness that real Irish spirit, the way we used to be when we stood up for our neighbours.”