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Dan Moloney, Kilkishen, is among the homeowners to feature in a short film on pyrite in Clare.

Family heart break at prospect of demolishing home

THREE generations of a Kilkishen family are “heart-broken” at the prospect of losing their home, after expert tests confirmed the presence of pyrite.

Dan Moloney told The Champion of the family’s devastation and his fears for his elderly father-in-law and daughter who also live in the house. “We are in a living nightmare and we honestly don’t know if half the house is going to be gone when we wake up each morning,” Mr Moloney said. “My father-in-law is a widower. The man is 90 and he’s blind. When he hears noises in the night, he thinks it’s thunder, but I’m afraid it’s actually the sound of the house cracking. From day to day, it’s getting worse. We can’t close the back door anymore because the walls are bulging. We’re tried all the fixes going, but it’s at the stage now where we can’t keep patching it up. I’m a broken man, but I’m more worried about my family than myself. When we built the house 23 years ago, I never thought we’d be facing the prospect of having to demolish it.”

The house was a cherished dream for the family who lived in America for a number of years. The detached dormer bungalow was built in 1997, around one mile from the village, when Mr Moloney and his family prepared to return to Ireland. “We’re on a beautiful site where we’re looking out on the 12 O’Clock Hills,” he said. “Just in the last six to ten years, we started to see the cracks. They looked like hairline cracks at first. I’m a plasterer and so is my brother and he said to me one day, ‘They’re getting worse’. Last year, I heard about Martina Cleary and the action group and I got in touch with her and we took things from there.”

As part of a report which the Department of Housing has asked the local authority to compile on the extent of defective blocks in Clare, the Moloney’s home was one of five selected for testing. “All five of the houses tested have pyrite,” Mr Moloney noted. “This is only the tip of the iceberg. We need access to the same redress scheme as those in Mayo and Donegal.”

Mr Moloney said he has now given up trying to restore the house himself and he urged others who may suspect they have pyrite or mica to speak up. “At this stage I’ve lost interest in painting and maintain the house,” he said. “I could put another €20,000 into it, but it’s like throwing money into a hole at this stage. There are a lot of other people who have the same problem as ourselves and they’re still trying to cope, but they need to come forward because the more people who do, the greater the pressure will be to get something done. There are homes that we know are affected across Clare, as well as in Sligo, Limerick and who knows where else. Everyone with this problem should have access to the grant scheme.”

Mr Moloney, who was one of the delegation from The Clare Pyrite Action Group to attend a huge protest in Dublin last month, backed the campaign to increase the level of redress offered under the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme.

“Everyone in this awful situation needs 100% of costs covered,” he said. “Our house is crumbling around us and I still have a mortgage. I’m still paying property tax, which is a pure disgrace. I won’t be able to build the same house for €240,000. Who’ll pay €1,500 a month for us to rent another house for a year? My house is not worth the price of a bag of peanuts now.”

Clare County Council has told The Champion it expects to submit its report on the extent of pyrite/mica in this county to the Department of Housing in the coming weeks. Minister Daragh O’Brien has undertaken to consider extending the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme after reviewing that report. Meanwhile, a working group made up of representatives from action groups in Mayo and Donegal is to report on a review of the grant scheme by July 31.

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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