Mica’s ‘true cost’ is found in the devastation it has caused, protest hears

The ‘true cost’ of the Mica crisis can be found in the devastating impact it has had on the lives of those affected, those in attendance at Friday’s protest heard.

By Laura Glenn
Tuesday, 12th October 2021, 11:47 am
A section of the tens of thousands who attended the mica redress protest in Dublin on Friday.
A section of the tens of thousands who attended the mica redress protest in Dublin on Friday.

As tens of thousands of people gathered at The Custom House, campaigner Eileen Doherty told how the ‘true cost of this human crisis can best be measured in the thousands of sleepless nights where parents have walked the floors, unable to sleep, due to worry the roofs may collapse on them and their family members.

“The true cost of this crisis can be measured in the many thousands of people being treated for severe anxiety and depression due to being overwhelmed with how they will get themselves out of this mess. The true cost of this crisis can be measured in the huge increase in marriage or family break ups due to the pressure this has imposed on families. The true cost of this crisis can be measured in the thousands of children who have known nothing but mica, who are too embarrassed to ask their friends over to play due to cracking in their homes, who are too frightened to kick a ball or too frightened to sleep on their own beds - who haven’t had their bedrooms decorated in 10 years because, next year, their parents hope to be able to fix their homes. These children have had their childhoods robbed from them. We cannot and will not allow this to continue.

“Time has stood still for thousands of affected families. We’re stuck in limbo with nowhere to go and as someone recently described it - it’s like watching an earthquake in slow motion. We have put our lives on hold for too long and we refuse to do it any longer.”

Campaigner Paddy Diver, joined by his wife, Amanda, said the crisis cannot happen again and ‘the government has to ensure that no family ever again has to go through what we are going through”.

“That’s the bottom line. It shouldn’t have happened in Donegal or anywhere else in Ireland.”

Campaigner Anne Owen urged taxpayers to ‘look to the government to offer you an explanation as to how the mica and pyrite and various flat scandals unfolded and seek justification from our government for the cost of this scheme to you.’

“A public apology is well overdue for all of us here. I would advise you, the taxpayer, to demand a full, public investigation. Campaigners have been told that no independent formal investigation is warranted. We must have a formal investigation.”

Ms Owens also intervened to ask the crowd to ‘show respect’ for Minister Charlie McConalogue after he was booed by some.

He said he and his party recognise the ‘massive responsibility on us’ and ‘the massive blight this issue has been on families lives for many years now.’ He reiterated his support for 100% redress and ‘a scheme that is going to stand the test of time,’

Mica Action Group chairperson Eamonn Jackson referenced Tanaiste Leo Varadkar’s previous comments during which he said that mica families deserved ‘parity with pyrite.’

Addressing the crowd, he said they could sleep comfortably knowing they had ‘played their part’ in highlighting the demands.

Donegal Cathaoirleach Jack Murray said Friday was ‘not a gathering or a protest, but a revolution.’ He added how he had ‘no doubt’ the campaign will be successful as ‘this is a tsunami that cannot be stopped.’

Leas-Cathoirleach Colr Martin McDermott paid tribute to campaigners and said ‘now is the time for government to deliver.’

Mica Action Group PRO Michael Doherty, who also received a huge cheer from the crowd, said that he has consistently asked the question: ‘Who runs the country?’ in relation to decisions being made by civil servants. “We elect politicians to represent us and they should have been in there to provide for our people. If they don’t get it after seeing this today they never will.”

Mr Doherty, who paid tribute to all those who travelled to Dublin, including by plane and boat, told how he had been interviewed for Euro News and the mica issue was to be highlighted to millions. He continued: “We’re 10 years down the road trying to make this happen. Let Europe look at them and see how high they’re going to hold their head. We are not going away and I think they’re starting to get that message.”