Anger at MICA redress scheme ‘justified’ as holiday home owners omitted - Derry MP Colum Eastwood

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Derry MP Colum Eastwood has described anger over the Irish Government’s decision to exclude holiday homes owners from its revised MICA redress scheme as justified.

The SDLP Leader said the announcement “represents a missed opportunity to give all those impacted the full and unconditional support they deserve”.

“Houses aren’t simply just bricks and mortar; they are homes, and for many, they are retirement plans.

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“The Government should review their policy to ensure complete redress for all those homeowners across the North West and to include those with holiday homes affected.

Foyle MP Colum Eastwood.Foyle MP Colum Eastwood.
Foyle MP Colum Eastwood.

“This has consumed the lives of thousands; urgent change is needed to ensure it doesn’t continue to loom large over people’s futures.”

The new scheme announced by the Irish government will not provide any financial support for holiday home owners from Derry or across the north or the Donegal Diaspora who have built homes in their native county but do not live there at present.

MICA campaigners, holiday home owners and Donegal residents have spoken of the huge contribution holiday and second home owners make to local economies and communities and have called for all those with homes affected by MICA to be treated equally.

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A range of changes to the mica redress scheme have been announced by the housing minister Darragh O’Brien who has described the alterations as ‘significant enhancements’ however holiday home owners are not eligible to apply.

The Minister said the previous scheme - which excluded all except principal private residences- would be extended to also cover registered rental properties, subject to the introduction of a clawback mechanism upon re-sale within a set time period depending on the remediation option used. Opportunities for the State to acquire such rental properties for social housing purposes will also be examined.

In an accompanying Q&A the government reiterated this in terms of who the scheme would apply to. It stated: “The grant scheme will apply to the owners of dwellings located in Donegal or Mayo, which are damaged due to the use of defective concrete blocks containing excessive amounts of mica/pyrite. The dwelling must be: (a) the individual’s principal private residence, that is, a house or apartment which an individual owns (or co-owns) and occupies as his or her only or main residence, (b) a rented dwelling with a Residential Tenancies Board (RTB) registered tenancy on November 1st 2021 subject to a maximum of one rental property per household and the introduction of a clawback mechanism upon re-sale within a set time period depending on the remediation option used.”

In terms of what type of dwellings do not qualify for this grant scheme, the government confirmed Holiday home properties, Vacant residential properties, a building or part of a building or out office that is not attached to a dwelling; a yard, garden or other land appurtenant to a dwelling; a building, other than a building comprising apartments, duplexes or maisonettes (or any combination of such dwellings), that provides multioccupancy accommodation under specific conditions, including, but not limited to, a nursing home, a boarding school, a hotel or a hostel; dwellings owned by a Public Body, and commercial/retail premises are all excluded.