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‘Farcical’ timeframe on Clare pyrite redress decision

THE founder of the Clare Pyrite Action Group has described as “farcical” a response from the Department of Housing on the timeframe for a decision on the possible extension of the existing redress scheme to this county.

Dr Martin Cleary questioned why there has been no indication to-date of when Minister Darragh O’Brien will issue a response to a report, submitted by the local authority on July 27, containing detailed evidence of the presence of pyrite here and making the case for extension of the Defective Concrete Blocks scheme to Clare.

Dr Cleary’s comments follow a statement to The Champion which outlines that the report, commissioned by the Department, “will be examined thoroughly by the Department and a submission will be made to the Minister as soon as possible thereafter”.

“It’s quite amazing that back in 2012 Darragh O’Brien was in the Dáil calling for urgent support for his own constituents who were affected by pyrite,” she said. “Now, here in Clare, we’re a year down the line in highlighting our case, and he’s still ignoring us. The County Council and ourselves have been working on that report since last January and now we’re told the Department needs time to examine it before submitting to the minister. That’s absolutely farcical.”

Responding to an RTÉ Radio 1 report on investigations into defective blocks in homes in Skerries, in North Dublin, which heard that Minister O’Brien had visited the area on July 2 and “brought blocks away with him for sampling”, Dr Cleary described the reaction as “knee jerk”.

The Claire Byrne Show also heard that Fingal County Council is the latest authority which has been asked to prepare a report for the Department with a view to widening access to the defective blocks scheme.

Meanwhile, a position paper from the Department, seen by The Champion, notes that access to the scheme is currently being sought by local authorities in Clare, Limerick, Sligo and Tipperary.

At the end of July, Clare County Council outlined the contents of its submission to the Department, telling The Champion that it is “hopeful of a positive response”. The report contains test results from five properties confirming the presence of pyrite. It is understood that these homes are in locations across Clare and were built between 1981 and 2007.

The council said it has submitted a map showing both confirmed and potential cases.

The authority has also asked the Department “to review elements of the current scheme (such as the current limit of remediation costs at 90% plus consideration of other current unfunded costs such as alternative accommodation, demolition and planning)”.

The report has requested the extension of the Local Property Tax (LPT) for affected properties in Clare and asked for “funding of resources for Clare County Council to administer the scheme as it is recognised that that scheme cannot be administered within existing resources”.

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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