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Minister Darragh O'Brien met homeowners affected by pyrite on August 27, 2021. Photograph by John Kelly

Clare redress access ‘expected’

Minister awaiting clarification around Council application before confirming access to defective blocks scheme

THE Housing Minister has said he expects the scheme for homes with defective blocks to be extended to Clare, once queries over a county council application are dealt with.
Responding to a query from Deputy Joe Carey, Minister Darragh O’Brien outlined the communications between his department and the local authority on the matter.
“We received a submission from the local authority in July requesting an extension of the defective block grant scheme to County Clare,” he outlined.
“We issued a response on August 3 indicating we would review the submission and we did so. We saw details of a breakdown of costs associated with the report on September 28.
“A number of issues arose, none of them insurmountable. It is standard that clarification is needed.
“I have been directly involved with regard to the submission on Clare. In this regard, I asked my officials to deal with clarifications and outstanding matters,” said Minister O’Brien.
“That meeting happened on November 9. We have been very clear on what further information is required.
“The director of services in Clare has been excellent as has the local authority.
“They have indicated they are confident they can address the issues raised.
“They will revert to me and the Department in a relatively short time. I am dependent on getting this information. Once I do, we will process it as a matter of priority.”
In the Dáil, Deputy Carey paid tribute to the work of the Clare Pyrite Action Group Chairperson Dr Martina Cleary and Vice Chairperson, Mary Hanley.
He reiterated that people are experiencing huge stress as a result of defective building blocks.
“People are extremely worried and they are suffering mental torture,” he said.
Minister O’Brien replied that: “If the data stacks up, and I have no reason to think it will not, the scheme will be extended to take in the county.
“It is important to note that even if there was nothing outstanding in the current submission and it was fully in order, it would not be to the homeowners’ advantage right now to access the current scheme.
“We are working through some of the changes. The changes and improvements that I will bring forward to the defective blocks scheme will apply to any new homes that come into the scheme.
“We will conclude this work very shortly. We will need legislation to underpin it. I expect, all data being equal, that it will be extended to Clare.
“With regard to the timeframe, we are working through some of the outstanding details with which Clare County Council needs to come back to us, which it will.
“Anne Haugh and the team have been excellent. There will not be any delay from the Government’s perspective.”
Probed further by Deputy Carey as to the nature of the queries the Department has raised, Minister O’Brien declined to go into the specifics.
“The Department and the local authority are working together to deal with some clarifications. I say clarifications rather than issues, said the minister.
“There are costs, engineering reports and other matters that need to be looked at. There is nothing that I can see about which I would be overly concerned in this regard.
“It is simply additional information and clarification being worked through by the Department and the local authority. I expect it to be resolved shortly.
“I will keep the Deputy informed. I know he will keep residents informed.
“I have asked the local authority to keep engaged with Dr Martina Cleary, Mary Hanley and the group in Clare.”

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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