Michael Doherty was responding to Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien’s assertion that he hopes to bring the enhanced scheme to Cabinet this week.
However, Michael highlighted how there have ‘already been seven postponements so far.’ “From what they have given us, the 30th is the date I’d have the most confidence in, but nothing is guaranteed,” he said.
As the campaign waits to see what the new scheme will include, Michael has urged holiday home owners affected by mica to speak out.
IN PICTURES: Big Bog Barbecue at Derry Féile 2022
In PICTURES: Out & About in the sunshine in Derry
Eight shark species swimming off Derry and Donegal
Gardai ‘investigating all circumstances’ after discovery of man’s body in water at Culdaff
3 women, 2 men arrested after Derry train altercation: Update
A call last week for landlords and their tenants to speak up proved very successful, he said. “We had a good response to that from buy to let landlords and their tenants and it resulted in RTE coming up to film us. It was then on the national airwaves and TV and I have no doubt that will help to influence things. But, we had very little holiday home owners coming through.
“It was a really poor response and my concern is, while there is no guarantee rental homes will get over the line, they have given a really good account of themselves and that helps. But, as for holiday homes, I’m not sure that has been given the same attention by owners and we’re trying to reach out to them to tell them that we need them to help us help them. I think it’s a ‘now or never’ job for them and they need to speak up.”
Michael told how the government is ‘trying to avoid a homelessness situation’ and principal private homeowners can’t be on the street. He said renting tenants also have nowhere else to go.
“But they could be thinking that you won’t be made homeless if you have a holiday home with no-one in it. If there’s a cull to be done in terms of houses to be left behind, I can see them taking holiday homes and to me, that’s completely wrong. They should be eligible. But the call is not going to be ours, it will be government’s and all we can do is try to positively impact it as best we can.
“With the 30th looming, it’s going to be difficult at this stage to influence anything, hence the appeal to see what we can do here. I’d urge all holiday home owners to get going and help us, help them.”
Michael also urged businesses to speak out about how ‘we can’t afford a Donegal dotted with derelict houses - we can’t expect people to want to come and see that.’
He added that people are getting ‘battle weary’ and ‘now want to know where they stand’ in terms of what will be included in the scheme. “We’re in the jaws of Christmas and they want to know where they stand, It’s a very reasonable request and we’re working night and day on this.”