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The home of Mary and Séamus Hanley in Drumline which is severely affected by pyrite. Photo: John Kelly.

Concern over ‘rebranding’ of state’s redress scheme

THE founder of the Clare Pyrite Action Group has expressed grave concerns over what she sees as the recent ‘rebranding’ of the campaign to increase redress for affected homeowners.
Dr Martina Cleary, whose membership includes more than 70 private homeowners, as well as those living in a number of local authority estates, has been working for over a year to secure access for Clare to the existing grant scheme.
While Minister Darragh O’Brien indicated that a decision on Clare’s status will be made very soon, a parallel campaign to improve the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme is also drawing to a close with efforts stepping up to secure 100% redress.
Against the backdrop of intensifying media and political speculation, Dr Cleary said she is now fearful that long-awaited improvements to the scheme, which currently only covers Mayo and Donegal, may not be extended to Clare.
“I’m very concerned about the new PR spin that has been put on the 100% Redress campaign,” she told The Champion.
“It now seems to be all about mica and politicians and the national media are only referring to mica, which is the problem in Donegal. The term pyrite seems to have fallen off the agenda.
“We heard the Taoiseach in the US referring only to mica and that’s a worry. This issue is about defective concrete blocks, whether those defects are caused by mica, or pyrite, which is the problem in Clare and Mayo, or whether they’re caused by something else.
“The exclusion of Clare from the debate is not constructive.
“The narrative seems to have changed and there’s a rebranding of the redress campaign to focus exclusively on mica. The scheme is not just a mica scheme.
“My fear now is that any improvements to the scheme might address the situation for mica homeowners only.
“I would imagine homeowners affected by pyrite in Mayo will see the benefits, because they’re already in the scheme.
“I would be concerned, however, that, because the focus has shifted so strongly to mica, Clare’s situation could be delayed and further testing and proof required, even though we’ve provided that and it’s very clear.”
Minister O’Brien is meeting homeowners from Mayo and Donegal this week to finalise a report on the working of the current grant scheme.
He is expected to bring a memo to Cabinet in early October, with a view to enhancing the scheme. A decision on Clare’s access to the grant is still awaited.

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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