Ennis College Further Education
Home » Breaking News » Independent TD slams ‘undemocratic’ debate on blocks bill
Independent Deputy Michael McNamara has secured an assurance from Minister Norma Foley that school transport issues in Whitegate will be reviewed.

Independent TD slams ‘undemocratic’ debate on blocks bill

Ennis College Further Education

THERE was friction between Clare TDs yesterday, when two Government party deputies voted to pass the controversial Bill underpinning the new grant for homeowners with defective blocks. 

Deputy Michael McNamara, who drew up some of the 160 amendments sought by campaigners and the Opposition, was the only Clare TD to oppose the guillotining of the legislation yesterday (Wednesday, July 6). Deputy Violet Anne Wynne was not present in the chamber when the Bill was passed the Bill by 74 votes to 69.

Frustrated at lack of time for amendments, and the stance of his constituency colleagues, Deputy McNamara was sharply critical of those ‘talking out of both sides of their mouths’. Despite voting for the guillotining of the Bill, Deputy Cathal Crowe made a number of points about the defective blocks issue. “It is very important that, while this €2.7 billion is ring-fenced, redress be expedited and further improved and refined by regulation in the autumn,” he said. The Meelick man also expressed the hope that regulation might deal with the controversial issue of the damage threshold for eligibility for the scheme. Deputy Crowe then asserted that certain quarry operators should be pursued through the courts. 

Following Deputy Crowe’s contribution, Deputy McNamara launched a broadside on those who had voted not to allow more than two hours to discuss the Bill. The Independent TD noted that some of the amendments would have facilitated the Government in pursuing quarry owners. 

“I completely agree with my constituency colleague on the need to pursue those who made and sold these defective concrete blocks for money and large profits,” Deputy McNamara said. “I have a number of amendments on this matter but the reality is they will not be reached. People talk out of both sides of the mouth a lot, and increasingly in this Dáil. They think because they voted to guillotine a Bill they will not have to vote down amendments making it more likely that quarry owners who sold defective concrete blocks would be pursued. They say they would have supported them if we had the time but, of course, they voted to make sure we did not have the time because they might have fallen out with their Government colleagues over it. That is really talking out of both sides of your mouth. It is disingenuous and it is offensive at this stage.”

In a highly-charged atmosphere in the Dáil chamber, many affected homeowners from Clare, Donegal, Mayo and other counties sat in the visitor’s gallery to remind TDs of their concerns over the Bill. These include the damage threshold for eligibility for the grant; the shortfall in remediation costs and the lack of an option to downsize and rebuild a smaller home. 

The debate was characterised by bitter recriminations between Opposition TDs and the Housing Minister and the vote led to the resignation from the party whip of Fine Gael TD for Donegal and former minister, Joe McHugh.

Speaking to The Champion, Deputy McNamara said he was particularly frustrated at the ruling out of an amendment drafted by himself and Deputy Thomas Pringle which would have provided the downsizing of affected homes. “This was ruled out of order, presumably on the basis that there would be an extra cost to the Exchequer,” Deputy McNamara said. “I asked the Minister O’Brien repeatedly to explain how and he declined to respond. The whole process has simply been undemocratic.”

The Bill will now progress to the Seanad for discussion there. 

Fiona McGarry
+ posts

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.

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.

Check Also

Posing at Batsford Arboretum

The London adventure begins…

Well, I was rudely awakened very early one Monday morning and after a flurry of …