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Founder of the Clare Pyrite Action Group, Dr Martina Cleary.

‘Bureaucracy’ delaying decision on Clare blocks redress access

FURTHER delays in giving Clare homeowners access to the grant scheme for defective blocks have been strongly condemned by the founder of The Clare Pyrite Action Group.

There were conflicting reports, at a recent public meeting, on whether and when the Department of Housing had raised queries with the council, over its application to access to the scheme.

The Department has now clarified to Deputy Joe Carey and to The Champion that it is to contact the council “shortly” about the report it submitted in June.

Given the Minister gave an assurance, on his Clare visit in August, that a decision would be made in a matter of weeks, the delay has provoked anger.

“This is disgraceful carry on,” Dr Martina Cleary said.

“Bureaucracy is being used to drag out people’s suffering. This obfuscation is unacceptable, and the council’s application is being pushed from pillar to post. It’s an utter joke and they think people are stupid enough to believe it. This kind of bureaucratic delaying tactic goes right back to the foundation of the State.”

Dr Cleary pointed out that Clare County Council has already spent €80,000 to prove the presence of pyrite, at the request of the Department.

“None of the other counties looking to access the scheme has done this,” she said.

“The council was assured that it had submitted everything required and now there isn’t even clarity on what the Department is looking to query.”

In an email to Deputy Carey, who sought clarity on the matter, an official in the Department wrote that: “A formal response to the submission from the Council will issue shortly from the Department, which will outline observations on the report and enable the Council to respond.

“Officials from the Department have been in touch with officials in the Council in relation to this. As you will know the Minister and the Department are focusing on bringing proposals to Government in relation to the Defective Concrete Block scheme following on from the work of the Working Group on the same. An extension of the Scheme will have to be part of wider discussions with Government colleagues.”

Following a query from The Champion, the Department said this week: “The Department has received and assessed the submission from Clare County Council and will shortly be writing to them on the matter.”

Deputy Carey said he has “pressed Minister Darragh O’Brien on the importance of including Clare in the grant scheme”.

“Two clear objectives came from the recent public meeting in Ennis,” he said. “One is that Clare must be included in the scheme, the second is the scheme must be made fit for purpose.”

Senator Timmy Dooley reiterated his view that once pyrite was proven in Clare, homeowners should have been given access to the grant.

“There is no reason that the Department can’t move ahead and include Clare in the scheme,” he said.

“This would at least give some peace of mind to homeowners and it should be done immediately. We can work on the details of the scheme after that. There must be equality with homeowners in Mayo and Donegal who already have access to the grant.”

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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