SERIOUS mental and physical health impacts for people living in homes where the concrete blocks are defective were outlined at a meeting in Ennis last Friday night (June 16).
As members of the Clare Pyrite Action Group (CPAG) sought an update on the new grant scheme, frustration boiled over they were told they would not be able to make applications for another five weeks.
One emotional homeowner told the meeting that she was recovering after recently suffering a stroke. “My husband now has long Covid and is unable to work,” she said. “How will we manage? What supports will there be to navigate this grant process? I feel like we’re being set up to fail.”
Deputy Violet Anne Wynne said the woman was the second person in a fortnight to say they had suffered a stroke as a result of dealing with the stress of pyrite. “While politicians can certainly empathise with the issues constituents are experiencing, you can only truly understand an issue like this if you are going through it yourself,” the Independent TD said. “I have no direct experience with this issue, but I have experienced the uncertainty and anxiety of insecure housing. Further delays are completely unacceptable. All that matters to these people are definite answers.”
After expressions of empathy from the Oireachtas members, another man said: “If you don’t live in a house with pyrite, you don’t understand”.
Deputy Crowe said that nobody should have to live in a defective home. “I know ten or 11 people in this room alone who have had health problems brought on my this,” he acknowledged.
Mary Hanley, whose badly cracked home in Drumline was visited by Minister O’Brien in August 2021, said she knew of many people affected mentally and physically by the stress of having pyrite. “The people we don’t see here are the young people with small kids,” she said. “They have huge mortgages and their homes are now worthless. I know them. Those young people are seriously stressed and I would be very concerned about them.”
Mrs Hanley, Vice Chair of CPAG, said there were far more people affected that had spoken out to-date. “We have identified more than 1,000 homes where there is pyrite,” she said. “There is not a hope in hell that that is the right number though. On my little road, there are ten houses with it. Tánaiste Micheál Martin was quite dismissive, as is the current Taoiseach. I saw Leo Varadkar on the television and I nearly went through it. He can cut the crap about paying out tax payers money to fix this problem. We are all tax payers.”
Reassuring the meeting that Minister O’Brien will soon sign the required regulations and open the grant scheme, Deputy Cathal Crowe said a last-minute issue had arisen for stakeholders in Donegal, one of the four counties to be covered by the new grant.
When asked by Councillor Ian Lynch about the nature of that issue, Deputy Crowe said he did not know. “That’s the problem,” said Councillor Lynch. “There’s no transparency. People here are so desperate, they’re willing to accept a substandard scheme. The scheme is atrocious.”
Councillor Donna McGettigan said the matter had been raised several times at meetings of the local authority. “All Council members are fully supportive of homeowners with pyrite,” she said. “We have heard and seen what people are facing. Why is Clare being lumped in with other counties? The minister has the power to activate the scheme for this county, so why doesn’t he?”
Danny Moloney of Kilkishen said the strain was huge for homeowners like him, and for his family. “My house is so bad that if we have to go through another winter with the way it is, we’ll have to move out,” he said. “We haven’t another five weeks to wait never mind waiting for 15 years Why is Donegal putting a hold on us?”