Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

13.57 14 Jun 2021


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Households hit by the mica and pyrite scandal are pushing for 100% compensation from the State to fund rebuilding and repair costs.

Thousands of homeowners from Donegal, Mayo, Sligo and Clare say they face paying up to €100,000 in repairs.

Some homeowners face the prospect of their homes having to be demolished and totally rebuilt to fix the issues.

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Mica and pyrite are minerals that were used in building blocks for thousands of Celtic Tiger-era homes.

When too much is present, the minerals can absorb water and cause walls to crack.

It has left many of the affected properties needing to be demolished and completely rebuilt.

While a state redress scheme covers up to 90% of construction costs (up to a max of €275,000), Mayo homeowner Louise Pye says people like her are still being left with massive bills.

Louise told The Pat Kenny Show that she and her family decided to move from Manchester to a new house in Foxford in Co Mayo back in 2002.

Pyrite and mica scandal: Homeowners want State to cover 100% of repair and rebuild costs

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She explained: “Around eight years in… we noticed some cracks. We phoned the builder and engineer … he said it looked like there were settling cracks… they didn’t think it was anything to worry about.”

However, “deep down” Louise and her family knew there was something wrong, with the cracks becoming more visible every year.

Last year, they received the “devastating” news that there was a severe pyrite problem affecting the house, with the only option “total demolition”.

While the State grant scheme is in place for repairs, Louise said it's “not fit for purpose”.

Her family faces substantial 'hidden costs' - such as rental accommodation and planning permission - on top of the costs of rebuilding the home.

She said: “We just can’t afford it - we’re still paying a mortgage on this property, and we shouldn’t have to fork out this money.

“Me and my husband both work and pay taxes. Why should we be having to be forking out money we actually can’t afford to get the house back up to the standard of what it should be.

“It’s actually dangerous at the moment - I’m actually frightened after this winter.”

On top of the financial cost, Louise said the continuing uncertainty is also taking an emotional and mental toll.

She said: “I went for a walk, and one of my good neighbours… happened to pull up alongside me and say ‘morning, how are you?’. I just burst out crying.

“We just don’t know where to turn… we feel like we’ve been let down.

“All we want is our lives and our homes back. Nobody I have spoken to is in this to earn anything out of this.”

"The State utterly failed in its responsibilities"

Donegal Sinn Féin TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said the Government should offer 100% compensation.

He said: "The families in Donegal and Mayo had no responsibility.

"The State utterly failed in its responsibilities to regulate the manufacturing of concrete blocks."

The Department of Housing says it’s still in discussions with local groups, but there has been no commitment yet for 100% redress.

Affected homeowners are due to hold a protest outside the Dáil tomorrow.

Main image: File photos via RollingNews.ie

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