A FACILITATOR to help Clare homeowners applying for grant support to treat the damage caused by pyrite, is being sought.
Councillor Ian Lynch confirmed that Clare County Council has written to the Department of Housing in relation to the recruitment of a local facilitator. Two staff were hired in Donegal – one of the four counties covered by the new grant – in March. Their role is to support those applying for the new scheme, which is expected to open imminently, though one-to-one clinics and public information sessions. “The Council has officially applied to the Department to appoint a facilitator,” the Independent councillor said. “The ball has started to roll on that matter. Any time there is a resource being provided and paid for by the Department, we need to grab it with both hands. It’s good to be able to reassure homeowners and CPAG after the questions that were raised at the meeting in Ennis. Homeowners will need someone there to try to ease the burden they will face when the scheme opens.”
The Kilrush man said that there is no clarity yet on the timeframe for the appointment of the facilitator and that more details are awaited from the Department. “The Council will be following up on this issue to make sure it’s a priority for government,” he said. “There is a template there because facilitators are already in place in Donegal. We need the person to be in place as soon as possible. We don’t know at this point if the person will be full-time or part-time, but it is really important that this opportunity to recruit is availed of. Council staff are already under pressure and some are doing several jobs and spread thinly. For existing staff to have to take on everything that will come with the defective concrete blocks grant would not be reasonable, so we need the facilitator as soon as they can be recruited.”
Meanwhile, Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne who tabled Parliamentary Questions (PQs) on issues arising from the meeting of the Clare Pyrite Action Group (CPAG) in Ennis a fortnight ago, agreed on the urgency around hiring a facilitator to support homeowners. “This person will need to be in place to support homeowners and they should be hired as soon as possible,” she said.
Responding to one of Deputy Wynne’s PQs, Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien, confirmed that a request from Clare County Council is being considered. “My Department received a request from the local authority referred to for additional staff to support the work for the roll out of the enhanced scheme which is being considered by my Department,” a written response said.
“This was one of the questions that was raised by CPAG members in Ennis and at least we now have an answer for them,” Deputy Wynne said. “There is now a huge urgency about the appointment and about the opening of the scheme itself, and I would urge the minister to act because homeowners in Clare have been waiting far too long as it is.”
In Donegal, advertisements were placed last December for two facilitators to work with the Inishowen Development Partnership and Donegal Local Development Company. They were appointed in March. The posts are supported by the Department of Housing through Donegal County Council.