‘If something is not done someone is going to get killed’

An Inishowen mother says the government must urgently deliver a just settlement for hundreds of families whose homes are disintegrating due to mica.

Friday, 4th June 2021, 1:22 pm

Claire McDaid spoke this week of how the defective blocks in her home outside Buncrana has affected her and her young family.

She said she first noticed pattern-cracking on the house she spent E250,000 on at the top of the pre-crash property market about eight of nine years ago.

Initially she and her husband assumed the fissures were settling cracks but a succession of inclement winters have since revealed the truth - major structural problems due to mica.

“One corner at the edge of our kitchen - I’m terrified it is going to fall,” Claire told the ‘Journal’ this week. “You see people who are touching their houses and they are crumbling. I’m afraid to put my hand near it.”

The problem is so severe she has had to insist her children take extra precautions around the home.

“It’s probably a couple of years since I started saying to the children, ‘Don’t kick the ball against the wall.’ At the time they were almost laughing at me - ‘Don’t be silly, mammy.’ But I’m absolutely serious about that. ‘Don’t kick the ball against the wall. Don’t have your bike around the back of the house because if you knock into that it could fall’.”

Claire says it is beyond time the government addressed a problem that extends far beyond cosmetics and is, she believes, putting lives at risk.

“I think that if something is not done someone is going to get killed. There is no doubt about it. It is so dangerous.”

Due to the location of her home high above Stragill the weather and the mica have combined to riddle the facework with cracks. “We are really high up and really get the weather up here. There are times when we get some snow and there is no snow in Buncrana. That’s because we are so high up,” she explains.

On top of her fears over the crumbling masonry Claire is anxious about her family’s respiratory health. “When there is heavy rain you can hear the water coming in through the cavity. The damp is starting to follow. There is damp in the bedrooms, kitchen and sunroom. That’s dangerous.

“We are considering moving into a mobile home. Can you imagine having spent E250,000 on a home and your family might have to over winter in a mobile home? It’s just ludicrous. It’s is shocking we are in that position,” she says.

Yet it is not only the physical and financial aspects of the mica crisis that she is concerned about.

A psychology graduate, she cites the basic physiological human requirements at the base of Maslow’s pyramid of needs that must be met for human beings to develop. These are food, water, warmth and rest. They are not being met for Donegal’s mica left-behind, says Claire.

“When you talk about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, everybody needs food and water and to be safe. These are the basic things that people need. And we are not safe. We don’t have that. We don’t feel safe.”

She is urging the government to introduce a 100 per cent redress scheme now.

“You can imagine the anger. It’s very hard not to be angry about it. When you have worked your whole life; when you have an investment like that in your home, when you are spending that sort of money, you don’t expect it to fall in around you.

“If you had a pair of shoes that fell apart you would take them back.”