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Deputy Cathal Crowe was one of four Oireachtas members who attended the December meeting of the Clare Pyrite Action Group. Photo: John Kelly.

Anger at broken promises on Clare access to redress

POLITICAL promises on the delivery of a grant scheme to Clare homeowners affected by pyrite were put to the test at a meeting in Ennis last Friday night (December 3).
The politicians who attended – Deputies Joe Carey and Cathal Crowe; senators Timmy Dooley and Martin Conway and Mayor of Clare, PJ Ryan – were quizzed intensively over their efforts to support those whose homes are crumbling due to defective blocks.
Concerns were also aired as to why technical aspects of the Council’s application to have Clare covered by the grant scheme are being queried by civil servants.
“The government are not even kicking the can anymore, they’re kicking us down the street,” said Danny Moloney of Kilkishen.
“We have to go back home and wonder if our house is going to fall down tonight. Where do we go from here?
“Can the Oireachtas members from Clare give me, and the people here in this room, some hope that we will be included in the scheme?”
Deputy Crowe described as “utterly insulting” and “baffling” the questions being raised over Clare’s application by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH).
The Fianna Fáil TD was then pressed by several members of the action group over his previous pledge that Clare would be covered by the grant scheme by Christmas.
“Minister O’Brien promised that the benefits of the new scheme will accrue to Clare,” the Meelick-based TD said.
“They are going to start preparing [it] immediately in the lead into Christmas. We’ve got three weeks or so left to Christmas now. And in the early New Year that’ll come in to the Dáil and Seanad.
“This is the crucial thing. This is the absolutely crucial thing, Donegal and Mayo are in the starting blocks.
“When that scheme is live, it will be open to them.
“Every single person, politically, Clare County Council, the Department, wants to get every one of you here in the room in the same starting blocks as Donegal and Mayo when that scheme opens and I think that is absolutely realistic.
“I fully believe that is realistic and I say that with full honour and integrity here tonight,” he added.
Deputy Carey agreed with the revised timeline as outlined by Deputy Crowe.
“Unfortunately, this new scheme will have to be underpinned by legislation and regulation,” he said.
“Minister O’Brien informed me that that legislation will only come to the houses of the Oireachtas in February.”
The Fine Gael member also supported the view that once the Department’s technical queries are responded to, Clare should be given access to the scheme.
He said it was his view that the council, the action group and pyrite expert Simon Beale should all be around the table to iron out any issues.
Senator Dooley said he too doubted the Clare scheme would be open before Christmas.
“I would sincerely doubt that Claire will be included before Christmas,” he said.
“I am an optimist, but I’m a realist, and I’m around a while… If I’m told something by a department, I tend to be sceptical about it, because I know that things take the time.”
He agreed that all parties involved should be discussing things around the table instead of exchanging queries by letter.
Senator Martin Conway added: “I think people expected and deserved a road map to be in place before Christmas. I never get up at any platform and make a promise, because I think politicians making promises is a difficult situation. You’re relying on other people to deliver on those commitments.
“But the one promise I will make to you is that we will work extremely hard and we want the we leave nothing on the pitch to get this result for you,” the Ennistymon senator concluded.

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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