‘Massive’ days ahead for mica campaign as thousands attend protest
The rest of September will be ‘massive’ for the mica redress campaign, with the working group’s final position paper set to be presented to the government this Friday, a protest has heard.
Over 2,000 people marched through Lifford on Saturday to ramp up the pressure in the campaign for 100% redress, with many travelling to the town from Inishowen and beyond.
One of the organisers, Fergal McLaughlin said those gathered were there ‘for one reason, to apply pressure in these last couple of weeks on the government and establishment in Dublin’.
Thanking those in attendance, he added: “I stand up here today as a homeowner. I stand up here to represent my family and not only my family - all the mica families. “
He also spoke of the need for people to fight on “through people power.”
Two homeowners also addressed the crowd, with Barry Moore from Killygordon outlining how much living in a mica-affected home has impacted him.
“I used to be the relaxed optimist. Aisling, my wife, was the worrier who lost sleep over my worries and everyone else’s worries. Mica changed me as a person. I’m now an anxious person who can’t sleep before three in the morning. I worry what will become of us, where will we end up, who will help us, will we get seriously hurt, will the house fall on our kids at night as we are sleeping?”
Homeowner Kathleen Bryant urged everyone to get involved in the campaign for 100% redress.
“I think there are still so many more people that have to pull their socks up. It can’t be a few of us fighting for all of us.”
She told how she is 65 years old and is fighting for her ‘independence and dignity’ and described her home as her ‘life.’
The key speaker on the day was campaigner Paddy Diver, who was met with huge cheers and applause.
He told the crowd how ‘we have come a long way from living in fear, silence and worry and we stand here united’.
He added how those gathered are ‘not numbers.’
“We’re real people, real people with real lives, mammies, grannies, children, fathers, just like me - the salt of the earth Irish people. We have done nothing wrong here and this is about every single one of you. We’re here to say that we have the right to feel safe in our homes, with no stress and to get 100% redress, no less.”
Paddy added that he hoped the Lifford protest could be the last and that no-one will have to return to Dublin for another march. Thanking the team that has worked alongside him in recent months, Paddy stressed how it is important the world hears the stories of mica homes and families. He invited anyone who wishes to share their story to the Strand Hotel in Ballyliffin this Saturday to meet with the media team.
Paddy also introduced Mica Action Group PRO Michael Doherty and told the crowd how ‘the respect I have for this man since I got involved with this campaign is off the charts.’
In turn, Michael said that Paddy will be remembered ‘in 100 years time’ for the work he has done for Mica familie and how his campaign re-energised the work of the Mica Action Group. He said the first scheme ‘as bad as it was and it was not what was promised, is something we can at least point to now and say: ‘That doesn’t work, we need something different.”
“The working group has a massive responsibility. 5,000 families in Donegal are depending on us,” he said and described September as a ‘massive, massive’ month for the campaign as the position paper is presented and a decision is expected from government by September 30.
“It’s all spilled milk come October. This is when it matters. We either do a hell of a job this month or walk away and there’s no way we’re walking away.”
The final position paper, which will be released to the public following the Defective Blocks Working Group meeting on Friday, focuses on the three key ‘pillars’ of 100% redress, no less; a 40-year State-backed guarantee and excluded homes. He added how he hoped the civil servants and government representatives had a ‘good six-week break as I can assure you, we’re ready.’
A tribute was also paid on the day to the late County Councillor Bernard McGuinness for his support for mica homeowners.