New Mica Redress Scheme may not be opened up until September

The chairperson of Donegal County Council’s Mica Redress Committee, Councillor Martin McDermott, has said homeowners ‘will have’ a new scheme that works and is better than the one previous.

Thousands of families across the North West are affeced by mica.
Thousands of families across the North West are affeced by mica.

The Fianna Fail councillor was speaking after homeowners reacted with disappointment following news late last week that the new scheme may not now be in place until September.

This was despite previous indications it would be rolled out before Easter.

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Colr McDermott was one of a delegation who met with Department of Housing officials on Thursday, along with Councillor Albert Doherty and members of the council executive. Despite the disappointing set-back in relation to the scheme’s delivery, he said there were a ‘lot of positives’ within the meeting.

This included the refunding of engineer’s fees within the next three weeks, to those who have applied for the scheme, whether or not they have passed stage one. Homeowners will also be able to access the announced 5000 euro emergency works grant within the next three weeks in order to undertake emergency remediation.

Councillor McDermott said other issues strongly highlighted to the department were the urgency of the 15,000 euro accommodation grant to allow people to refurbish, purchase mobile homes etc for alternative accommodation, as well as planning exemptions.

Colr McDermott said these were met positively as they would alleviate pressure on housing need.

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There was also a push for IS465 protocol to be updated ‘as quickly as possible’ and to take into account other deleterious materials. The protocol is due to be reviewed by the National Standards Authority in the coming weeks

However, the confirmation that the scheme itself is ‘not likely to be opened before summer’ was disappointing.

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“There was no point in coming out of the meeting and sugar coating it and saying they were hopeful of March or April.

“They were very clear it will be summer before it is ready to go. It’s important that people know what is going to happen and that there is going to be a delay. It is going to take some time to get the legislation up and running. We want and need a new scheme that works better than the one we have and we are going to have that, but unfortunately it is going to take longer than we anticipated.”

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Colr McDermott said those in attendance at the meeting had a ‘good grasp’ of the issues and ‘are looking for a scheme that is workable for everyone, not just a few”.