Minister ‘committed to a solution’ on MICA issue

Members of the Mica Action Group, pictured with Minister Damien English.
Members of the Mica Action Group, pictured with Minister Damien English.

Minister Damien English has confirmed to the Mica Action Group that talks to prepare for redress, with government officials, technical and legal staff and the Minister for Finance are now at ‘an advanced stage.’

Minister English, Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and Minister Joe McHugh, Government, Chief Whip and Minister of State at the Department of Culture recently met with Members of the Mica Action Group (MAG) in Letterkenny.

Ann Owens, MAG chairperson said:“The purpose of the meeting was to give MAG an opportunity to ascertain exactly what progress had been made on the issue of defective blocks since our last meeting in December 2017. In particular, MAG wanted to ask about any government funded redress scheme for householders in Donegal whose homes have been affected by defective blocks/mica.

“Whilst the minister did not formally announce a redress scheme in principle at this point in time, he did provide solid assurance that the publication of the draft protocol (by the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI)) and the ongoing public consultation process, are vital in paving the way towards a government funded redress scheme. Importantly, Minister English also confirmed that talks to prepare for redress with government officials, technical and legal staff and the Minister for Finance (around funding of the scheme) are now ‘at an advanced stage’.”

She added:“Minister Joe McHugh indicated that in his opinion, we are at the ‘serious business stage now’, at government level in conjunction with the ‘heavy lifters’ Eoghan Murphy, Minister for Housing and Pascal Donoghue, Minister for Finance.

Ann went on to say: “MAG were heartened to hear that Minister English once again reiterated his commitment to finding a way’ to repair/replace the houses affected. The Minister was also eager to ascertain if MAG had prepared a submission for the public consultation phase of protocol 1 and if in essence, we were satisfied with the protocol. MAG informed the minister that its submission, was due to be submitted imminently. We confirmed that overall MAG is satisfied with the protocol (although we have a number of suggestions to make to enhancing it), presupposing a government funded redress scheme. The deadline for submissions is July 18, 2018.

“Minister English confirmed that in his estimation, following completion of the public consultation process, the training of engineers is to begin in Autumn 2018 and building/remedial work commencing in early 2019, subject to finalisation of funding matters.

“Members of MAG probed the minister on a range technical matters, strategies around the chronology of work, use of reliable building material and ethical issues around providers of materials. We were also adamant that we would not tolerate certain providers of building materials, who were involved in providing defective products that caused this issue, to be the main beneficiaries under any redress scheme.

Ann Owens concluded: “Overall, MAG were unanimous in their perception that the Minister was genuine, and committed to seeing a solution to fixing the homes of those affected. We left the meeting feeling very positive and hopeful for the future for all homeowners affected by this terrible issue”