‘Shame’ on government for forcing mica-affected homeowners to demonstrate in Dublin - Councillor

There is ‘shame’ on the government for making Donegal and Mayo homeowners travel to Dublin and ‘beg’ for 100% mica redress, Inishowen County Councillors have heard.

Monday, 14th June 2021, 5:00 pm
A small section of the large crowd who recently attended the march in Buncrana.
A small section of the large crowd who recently attended the march in Buncrana.

Councillor Martin Farren made the comments at this week’s online meeting of the Inishowen Municipal District, at which councillors gave their backing and support for the current campaign.

The matter was raised by Councillor Bernard McGuinness, who highlighted how the issue had received national coverage, with reports of public buildings containing mica.

He described the mica situation around the county as ‘very, very bad’ and added how ‘the people who live in these houses have to be the number one priority.’

“If public buildings have to be closed, that’s another scenario. It shows the extent of the problem we have and it would be remiss of us not to acknowledge what we have been hearing. “

He continued: “I remember it being brought up at a council meeting and being told it would be dealt with by central government when that day came, in relation to cracks on the council building in Carndonagh.”

Colr McGuinness outlined how all Donegal TDs, including Minister Charlie McConalogue, as well as all county councillors have shown their support for 100% redress.

“We have to work away on this and do the best we can for the people we represent and it’s important that, at our official meeting of Inishowen councillors, that we give support to the people and to the Mica Redress Committee in the work that they are doing.”

Colr Martin McDermott said it is ‘vitally important for Donegal to receive 100% redress and that we’re all singing from the same hymn sheet’.

Colr McDermott said that there are many buildings with issues, including community centres, farm buildings, pubs and ‘all types of commercial buildings’ but said it was ‘imperative that we get it right for the person that is living in their home first.’

“That has to be our priority, at this minute in time, that there is a scheme that works for the homeowner, who is paying a mortgage and raising a family and living this nightmare and that needs to be sorted first.

“There’s big work to be done, going forward. With the likes of public buildings, the government will have to step in and deal with that, as it falls under their auspices.

“There will be a march in Dublin next Tuesday and a considerable amount of people will be going to it and it’s going to lay with the department and minister that this is moved on quickly.

“As the days go by, houses are getting worse and people are more and more anxious.”

Councillor Martin Farren welcomed Min McConalogue’s backing of 100% redress and highlighted how all councillors were also supportive of this at the full Donegal County Council meeting.

He outlined how ‘quite a number of people will be travelling to Dublin to express their frustrations and anger. The amount of money, too, that it’s going to cost them, to go to Dublin.

“When you have ministers and government, they do say at the end of the day that they make the decisions. Unfortunately, in some cases, they say the civil servants are running the country and not politicians. When this is going on you’d be inclined to believe that. With one stroke of a pen this minister can change this scheme.”

He continued: “To have to take these people to Dublin, to have to walk on the streets, it’s like begging on your knees for something. I think it’s a disgrace they have to do this. Is this government waiting for a house to fall down or a wall to collapse and someone seriously injured? Then there will be a reaction.”

Speaking passionately, Colr Farren told how he has been in politics for a number of years and claimed if there is a ‘will within the government, the scheme can be changed ‘with one stroke of a pen.’

He outlined how the housing minister has the ’power’ to change the scheme and said he would ‘like to think’ that Taoiseach Micheal Martin ‘should be telling him to get 100%, as all the opposition parties, including my own - Labour - are fully supportive of the people of Donegal and Mayo. Maybe if common sense can prevail this week and something could be ironed out.”

Colr Farren said the people of Donegal ‘aren’t going to accept anything less than 100% redress. People in Dublin should know that. Shame on them to have to make these people go the whole way to Dublin and march on the street and in many cases, have to beg. They should come down and have a look at some of the houses here.”

Colr Farren paid tribute to those in the council working on the scheme and said that while councillors can ‘talk about it to the cows come home, this decision has to be made in Dublin.’

“Only two parties can make this decision. They are in government and have to come up with 100% redress now and not keep people waiting, People are burned out, stressed our, worried. Their houses are falling down around them and they’ve maybe 20 years to pay on a mortgage and then now they might have to pay another one.”

Colr Farren said that he found it tough, at times, to pay his mortgage, but has been ‘left with a house at the end of it.’

“What about these people, a house crumbling around them and 20 years left on their mortgage? I don’t care where they get the money from, they have to get the money. We’re all singing off the same hymn sheet and we’re going to accept nothing less than 100%. So, why the hell don’t they give us 100% and people can move on with their lives?”

Councillor Jack Murray agreed with Colr Farren and stated his comments were ‘spot on.’

He said that 100% redress ‘has to be resolved and realised.’

“There’s a juggernaut that is not going to be stopped and that’s the people of Donegal, who aren’t taking this lying down. Fundamentally, it’s a question of equality. Are people in Donegal going to be treated equally to those in north Leinster? When Michael Martin said you couldn’t compare the two schemes due to financial differences - the pyrite scheme had never happened before and they brought it in because they wanted to act for the people of north Leinster. Once the State accepted it is responsible and capable for fixing this then they need to go the whole way.”

Councillor Albert Doherty, Cathaoirleach of Inishowen, said not only is people’s physical health affected, their mental health is also impacted.

“Once the bricks and mortar are restored there will be an onus on us to ensure there are supports for the families, the young ones who are living with Covid and mica and not living the year the should have had. There have been so many undue concerns families have had to carry over the last year and a half and prior to that, because of the mica issue, that was never of their own causing.”

The council’s mica redress committee will meet today and Colr Doherty said he hopes there will be an extensive report on issues highlighted when it last met.

He also hopes for a response on a request for a cross-party delegatio to meet with the Minister for Housing.

“There were five different motions on mica seconded and supported at the recent Donegal County Council meeting and they all agreed there should be 100% redress.

“We all have to stay together and stay strong on this.”