The human toll of the mica fiasco has been emphasised by Sinn Féin’s Pádraig Mac Lochlainn, who has said he knows one man he is convinced took his own life due to the debacle.
Senator Mac Lochlainn was speaking in the Seanad prior to its adjournment for the holidays on Thursday. He said this must be the last Christmas families endure crumbling mica-affected homes.
“It is vital, as we move towards Christmas, that the families affected will know this is the last Christmas they will spend in, frankly, devastation and heartbreak in what should be their happy family home,” he said.
“I need timeframes and confirmation today as to when this is going to happen in 2019, and reassurance that the moneys have been provided for this to happen,” he added.
The use of ‘muscovite mica’ in concrete blocks in Donegal has caused extensive pattern-cracking in walls, affected over a thousand houses, and forced some people to evacuate their homes.
Senator Mac Lochlainn said: “I visited the home of a family where the man took us around all of the outside walls. It was a beautiful setting overlooking the Donegal countryside - a dream home. This man and his wife are hard workers.
"To see that man break down in tears in his kitchen, worried that the ceiling or the gable wall could fall down on his family, is something that never leaves me.
"There is also the story of a man in Inishowen who took his own life, no doubt because of the unbelievable financial stress of having to move out of the home and deal with all of that. I could tell the Minister of State many more stories if I had the time. What has happened is heartbreaking and devastating.”
The Minister for State at the Department of Health, Deputy Catherine Byrne, speaking on behalf of the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy, said details of the mica redress scheme will be brought forward in the new year
However, she said she could not give an exact date.