Mica homeowners hold mass demonstration at Donegal council offices

Mica-affected homeowners and campaigners pleaded for help and a plan of action at a meeting of Donegal County Council on Monday.

A mass demonstration was held outside the council offices in Lifford on Monday morning, following which the council adjourned standing orders at their meeting and invited five campaigners to speak in the chamber.

The speakers asked for urgent action from the council to address scheme delays, accommodation concerns and emergency supports for those affected.

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Campaigner Paddy Diver said homeowners believe that the council has ‘let people down’ and are not being ‘represented enough’.

Homeowners pictured at the mass demonstration at Donegal County Council offices in Lifford on Monday. Mica Action Group

He told how 10 of the worst affected families, including children, are living in homes with black mould and damp.

“It’s not acceptable that people are living in these houses. Has anyone in Donegal County Council been in these houses, There hasn’t, why?”

Paddy said action is needed and asked why modular homes haven’t been delivered, why meetings of the council’s Mica Redress Committee have been cancelled.

Paddy added that if homeowners’ demands are not met, they are ‘going to have to cross the line, and we don’t want to cross the line’,

Homeowner Sharon O’Connor said there are seven members of her family affected by mica, with homes ‘falling down and unliveable’.

She said her parents’ home, which was built just 10 years ago, has cracks they can put their arm through and is infested with mice.

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“You wouldn’t put a dog in the house they’re in. The corners are twisted.”

Ms O’Connor said it was a ‘disgrace’ that her parents, who are in their 70s, are forced to live in the house.

Yvonne and Michael Shevlin told how their children would have nightmares that the house was going to fall down on them.

She asked the council: “Have you ever had to leave your home with your children for safety? I had to, nobody would do nothing for us.”

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Ray Doherty, a member of the Mica Action Group Committee, said water is coming in through his roof. His application for the redress scheme has been submitted since 2020, but he said when the house is eventually approved for demolition, there will be nowhere to rent.

Lisa Hone, chairperson of the Mica Action Group said people are at their ‘absolute breaking point’.

She said an urgent plan needs to be put in place and the immediate needs include the €20,000 accommodation and storage allowance, that will not be deducted from the final grant and the provision of modular homes for people to live in during remediation works.

Liam Ward, Acting Chief Executive said the council would commit to having an answer to questions by Friday,

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He said that, ‘when the issues are set out and the reply is set out and where the action needs to be taken and what group, organisation or department, and if it’s the council, the council has to be named in that, as to where responsibility or action lies and that framework will bring clarity as to where the delays are and what needs to happen.”

He added that the council and executive are anxious to work with all stakeholders and do not want to delay solutions.