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Clare’s blocks issue is same as Mayo’s


Expert report states Clare should have redress access

ONE of Ireland’s leading experts on defective blockwork has found Clare’s pyrite problem to be similar to that in Mayo, where several hundred homes are affected.
In a detailed technical report prepared for Clare County Council and submitted, since the end of July, to the Department of Housing, Simon Beale and Associates (SBA) said the nature of the blockwork problem here is very similar to that in Mayo.
The 29-page report, released to The Champion under the Freedom of Information Act, repeatedly highlights the technical similarities between the situations in Clare and Mayo.
The Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme was opened in 2020 after a long-running campaign for redress by homeowners in Mayo and in Donegal, where the mineral mica is believed to be present in thousands of homes.
Simon Beale, who is a recognised expert on defective blocks, and has assessed and tested over 150 homes in Mayo, compiled the report to demonstrate the potential extent of pyrite in the county.
Clare County Council sent the document to the Department at the end of July and called for access to the scheme for homeowners here, as well an increase in the grant from 90 to 100%.
“In my opinion, given the evidence during the site visits conducted in Co. Clare and the laboratory results, Co. Clare should be included into the existing Defective Concrete Blocks Scheme already in operation in Co. Mayo and Co. Donegal,” the report states.
Throughout the document, similarities between the situation in Mayo and Clare are highlighted. The report given to The Champion has been heavily redacted and the location of five properties where sampling was carried out cannot be identified.
Despite that, a redacted map shows confirmed and suspected incidences of pyrite distributed evenly all over Clare.
The SBA report also states the properties were selected based on location “to give a suitable representation of the problem”. The dates of construction are listed as 1988, ‘89, ‘95, ‘97 and 2006.
The SBA report outlines how eight core samples were taken from each of the five properties and sent for laboratory analysis.
Four out of the five properties were found to be among the most seriously affected and categorised in Group Four, as “significantly damaged”.
The other home tested was put into Group Three, and classified as “damaged”. Both categories of home are found to be “exhibiting structural damage as a consequence of pyrite induced expansion”.
The laboratory which examined the samples also found similarities between the defective blocks in Mayo and Clare.
“It looks like the material used for concrete in both counties was similar,” the report states.
“If not the same quarry at least the same bed or region. The aggregate appears to be the same. There are a few reports with additional fine aggregate (e.g. beach sand), but it looks like there is no big difference in reports from both Co. Mayo and Co. Clare.”
While the report concludes that Clare should be included in the grant scheme, a decision from Government is still awaited, as is the review of the scheme after an intensive campaign to increase the level of redress to 100%.

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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