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Damage caused by defective building materials like pyrite or mica. Photo by Martina Cleary.

“It’s no way to have to live”

THE plight of local householders who are seeing their properties decay due to pyrite/mica in the blocks of their home was discussed at Monday’s County Council, with the members unanimously passing a motion requesting the Minister for Housing to extend the Defective Concrete Blocks Scheme to Clare.

During the course of the debate it became apparent that several of the members had been to some of the damaged houses, and they were clearly struck by the poor conditions that their residents have to live in.

Councillor Pat McMahon said that pyrite and mica are natural minerals but if they are present in blocks they can lead to degradation and collapse.

In Clare, he said that 33 homeowners have come forward with issues, but that there could be a lot more people out there with problems.

He said that the Defective Concrete Blocks Scheme is already open to people in Donegal and Mayo, but that it should be extended to this country. The Newmarket man said that an alternative scheme is limited to €70,000, but this is inadequate with some of the houses actually needing to be rebuilt.

Councillor McMahon also asked that the members of the Council executive meet with members of the local action group that has been established.

His party colleague Pat O’Gorman reiterated that call, while he also stressed that Clare should be included in the Defective Concrete Blocks Scheme. “Clare is as entitled as Mayo or Donegal to be put into the scheme.”

Living in homes that are literally at risk of collapse is a massive source of stress to the unfortunate owners, he added. “It is in their heads, morning, noon and night.”

Visiting one house, he said the cracks on the gable end were so large that he could his finger through the blocks. He said the owners had gone to Kerry for just four days and when they came back they could see that a lot more cracks had emerged. “They go to bed every night hoping that the blocks won’t fall in on them.”

Independent Gerry Flynn said that inclusion in the scheme would be of huge benefit to those affected and he urged the county’s TDs to seek the same recognition for their constituents as the people of Donegal and Mayo get. “We all live on the same island,” he said.

Fianna Fáil’s Shane Talty said he had visited a house in Fanore that is in a bad way. “There you could put your fist in through the wall at every second block.”

He said it is very unfair that people have shouldered a mortgage to be left with a property that is effectively valueless.

With the wind blowing through the many holes in the walls, he said it sounded like someone playing a tin whistle, and that he would find it impossible to even sleep there. “It’s no way to have to live,” he added.

The scheme, which the Councillors want Clare people to be eligible for, offers five remedial options, and separate grant limits apply to each option ranging from €247,500 for the complete demolition and rebuild of the dwelling, to €49,500 for the demolition and rebuild of the outer leaf of affected walls only. The funding is subject to the option limits or 90% of the eligible works, whichever is the lesser.

Owen Ryan

About Owen Ryan

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Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.

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