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

Council preparing further pyrite report for Department

A MEETING will take place this Friday, May 6, between the Council and homeowners affected by pyrite, as the authority prepares “a further report” for the government. 

It is now nine months since Clare County Council submitted its original report to Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLG) seeking access to the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme.

Since then, the government has agreed to revise the scheme, currently only available in Mayo and Donegal. The DHLGH has also reverted to the Council with a series of detailed questions about the prevalence and impact of pyrite here.

Among the items requested is proof of a causal link between the presence of pyrite and the cracking of properties. The Council sent an initial response before Christmas and is continuing to engage. 

“The Council is currently preparing a further report for submission to the DHLGH which will be discussed at the meeting between the Clare Pyrite Action Group and Clare County Council on the 6th May,” a spokesperson for the authority confirmed.

“The DHLGH has requested that Clare County Council prove the presence of oxidised pyrite in samples taken from properties in Clare. In this regard the Council will be reliant on the professional report of a qualified IS465 engineer whose findings will be supported by accredited laboratory testing and compilation of this report is currently nearing finalisation. The Council remain committed to securing access to the redress scheme for affected homeowners in Clare.”

In response to concerns raised by the Clare Pyrite Action Group (CPAG) about “prohibitive clauses” in the revised grant scheme, the Council said it has no reason to believe this will be the case. 

“There is a national standard IS465 which sets out assessment, testing and categorisation criteria of damaged buildings incorporating concrete blocks containing certain deleterious materials,” the spokesperson said.

“This is the standard used in Mayo and Donegal who currently have access to the redress scheme. At this juncture we are not aware of any proposed change to this national standard and it is our understanding that this standard will apply to any additional county permitted access to the redress scheme.”

The Council also confirmed that its current estimate of the number of properties affected here. 

“The best estimate of the number of homes potentially affected in Clare is between 350 and 620 properties as it is not possible to be definitive in relation to the likely quantum of homes impacted in Co. Clare,” it said. “This range is based on both known and suspected cases, feedback from the Clare Pyrite Action Group and the level of occurrence within our own Local Authority stock.”

Meanwhile, Dr Martina Cleary of the CPAG continues to record interviews with homeowners.

“As part of my current practice-based research, I am creating a short film, ‘Story Of A House’”, she said.

“This will feature impacted homeowners in County Clare, living through the experience of discovering defective blocks in their homes. It explores different aspects of the human story, at the heart of the broader political campaign for justice. More details of the project are available at Martinacleary.com/archive/house.

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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