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Donegal activist: people must pull together

ONE of the country’s most vocal campaigners on defective concrete blocks has appealed to Clare homeowners to work with him for better redress.
Paddy Diver joined a remote meeting of the Clare Pyrite Action Group on Friday, just hours after they spoke to Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien.
Mr Diver from Donegal is one of up to 5,000 homeowners affected by mica. Like pyrite, mica causes defects that lead to cracking and crumbling of blocks.
The Donegal activist was updated on the minister’s pledge to give a decision, in a matter of weeks, on the Council’s application for access to the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme.
Mr Diver is a member of the working group looking for an increase in redress from 90 to 100% and one of the organisers of a protest in Dublin last June.
“The light at the end of the tunnel is in all counties coming together,” he told the meeting. “In Donegal, we were kept on our own for years. Now it’s out there. Clare has come forward and now Limerick and Tipperary. One little bee is annoying, but even the bravest will run from hundreds of bees.
“The government has never been under so much pressure to protect family homes. People are on their knees over this.”
The Carndonagh man gave an undertaking that the improvements to the scheme will be extended to Clare.
“Whatever we get on the working group, Clare will get too,” he said. “When the scheme started, everything was moving at a snail’s pace. We have ironed out some things since then.”
Mr Diver said the main issues outstanding are the demand for 100% redress and a State guarantee for remediation works, so that homes can be insured.
“Without a State guarantee for remediation works, a house cannot be insured,” he said. “There is no way either that we can continue to accept a 90:10 scheme where the homeowner has to contribute 10%. It’s okay for me at 40 when I’m still working, but there are others who have worked all their lives and are retired. What about them?
“What about single mothers and old age pensioners? I couldn’t accept a deal that forgets about them. If everybody pulls together, we can keep the pressure on government over this, if we stick to our beliefs.”
Hopes were also voiced that a centralised body will be tasked with overseeing remediation works for homeowners approved for the scheme, and that a ‘green cert’ is given to guarantee the works.

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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