Home » Breaking News » Concrete proof of Clare pyrite problem as Banner joins protest
Brid Devanney, Quin and Linda O'Callaghan, Cooraclare, pictured at a protest by Clare Pyrite Action Group on O'Connell Street Ennis on Monday. Photograph by Arthur Ellis.

Concrete proof of Clare pyrite problem as Banner joins protest

THE presence of pyrite in a number of Clare homes has been “definitely proven”, following a process overseen by the local authority and the Department of Housing, writes Fiona McGarry.
Scientific evidence of defective blocks has been welcomed by the Clare Pyrite/Mica Action Group. They said the findings of a study of a sample of their members’ homes strengthens their campaign for access to a redress scheme which currently only applies to homeowners in Donegal and Mayo.
The group took part in a protest this Monday in Ennis to highlight the issue and further their claims for access to the system.
Tomorrow, members of the Clare group will join protesters from other affected counties outside a Dáil sitting at the Convention Centre in Dublin and added their voices to calls for the redress scheme to cover 100% of the costs associated with restoring their homes; in some cases this will involve demolition and rebuilding.
“Our group is now up to 50 members, from all over Clare,” said founder Dr Martina Cleary. “We believe this is the tip off the iceberg. There are many, many more homes affected and we have no doubt that there are many people who are only beginning to realise the nature and scale of their problem. We now have definitive proof of a problem in this county.”
A process of core sampling was undertaken on five homes following the Department of Housing’s tasking of the Council to test for evidence of defective building material.
“The homes tested are located in every part of Clare,” said Dr Cleary. “That leads us to believe the issue is widespread. The date of construction of these homes is between 1981 and 2007.
“Pyrite is a problem that has been ongoing across the county for some time. The scale of this issue is about to get much bigger. There’s a problem emerging in Sligo and there’s reason to believe parts of Tipperary and Galway are affected too.”
While a redress scheme was opened last year for affected homeowners in Donegal and Mayo, the maximum amount of the cost covered is 90%.
“First of all, we want the scheme extended to Clare,” Dr Cleary woman said. “There must be no more discrimination against this county and no more excuses. We also back the call for redress to be increased. Our slogan is: ‘100% Redress, Nothing Less’.
“People in Mayo and Donegal are running into all kinds of problems and, in some cases, have to apply for planning permission all over again, if their home has to be demolished.
“The current grant is clearly not fit for purpose and homeowners are facing all kinds of delay mechanisms and all kinds of obstacles. Our homes are falling down around us, we cannot afford to wait.”
As to the source of the defective blocks in Clare, Dr Cleary said that matter was outside the scope of the recent round of testing. “There are a number of bigger questions here,” she said. “There’s the issue of the government failing to apply and enforcing regulations. The government has questions to answer, that’s clear, but our priority now is to get the scheme extended to Clare and to get 100% of the costs covered.”
Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe says it is of the utmost importance that a remedial scheme for homeowners in this county impacted by pyrite and mica defective block issues be developed in as short a possible timeframe.
“Due to my commitment to attend my West Clare clinics today, I was unable to attend the rally organised by homeowners in Ennis this afternoon,” said Deputy Crowe.
“I have, however, arranged to meet them when they attend a rally in Dublin tomorrow.
“I’ve been speaking with Minister Darragh O’Brien on a number of occasions about the need to advance a pyrite and defective block remediation scheme for Co. Clare.
Deputy Crowe noted the estimation that 40% of homes in Mayo and Donegal that have pyrite blocks in them may need to be demolished, was a conservative one.
“From a Clare perspective, it’s essential we that we get a scheme underway in the quickest possible time.
“Minister O’Brien has met with homeowners from Donegal and Mayo in recent weeks and I’m now in the process of trying to set up a meeting between him and the Clare Pyrite Group.
“I also suspect that there is a public building in our county that also has defective blocks within its structure and I am urging the council to immediately undertake testing to verify this.
“For anybody who has experienced the trauma of discovering that their home, which they have decades of mortgage repayments ahead of them for, is crumbling around them, this cannot be allowed to continue.”
In April, Minister O’Brien’s department received a number of submissions urging improvements to the existing Defective Concrete Blocks Scheme.
He told ‘Today with Claire Byrne’ on RTÉ Radio One this week that he has briefed his cabinet colleagues and is examining the cost implications of extending the scheme to provide 100% redress.
Figures secured by RTÉ show that in Mayo, of 93 applications for redress, 67 will involve the demolition of homes. Up to 1,000 homes in that county are understood to be affected by pyrite.
As currently constituted, the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme offers five remedial options to affected homeowners.
Separate grant limits apply to each option, ranging from €247,500 for the complete demolition and rebuild of the dwelling, to €49,500 for the demolition and rebuild of the outer leaf of affected walls only.
The funding is subject to the option limits or 90% of the eligible works, whichever is the lesser.

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