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A Mayo pyrite redress activist has pledged to work with affected homeowners in Clare to get them access to a redress scheme. Photo by Martina Cleary.

Mayo pyrite activist tells Clare: ‘don’t sit back and take this’

A MAYO activist, who has been central to a campaign to highlight the issue of defective concrete blocks, has pledged to work with affected homeowners in Clare so that they too can get redress.
Jamie Lee Donnelly from Ballina is one of the founders of the North Mayo Pyrite Group, which now represents 600 people whose homes are cracking and crumbling because of defective materials.
She told The Champion she strongly favours the inclusion of Clare in the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme, which currently covers only Mayo and Donegal.
As an expert group meets this week to look at calls for an increase in the level of redress from 90 to 100%, Jamie backed calls for other counties, including Clare, Limerick and Sligo, to be given access to supports.
“I would urge people in other counties to make their voices heard,” she said. “Don’t sit back, don’t take this. We are fortunate in Mayo and Donegal that we have a scheme, but we will fight with you to get you onto this scheme.
“Nobody on the island of Ireland today should be sitting at home watching their houses crumbling around them. It’s not good enough. We set up as the North Mayo Pyrite Group, this has gone way beyond North Mayo.”
After multiple cracks appeared in their home, Jamie and her husband, Ryan, had core testing carried out to confirm the presence of pyrite. The couple now have no option but to have their home demolished and rebuilt.
While a redress scheme opened last year for homeowners in Mayo and Donegal, who are affected by pyrite and mica, there are serious concerns over its adequacy.
A major protest in Dublin in June brought together thousands of people calling for the scheme, which is administered by local authorities, to cover 100% of costs incurred by homeowners. In addition to direct construction costs, significant indirect expenses can arise, ranging from fees for storing furniture to renting alternative accommodation.
“I submitted the stage 1 application to Mayo County Council over 12 weeks ago and I’m still waiting to hear about eligibility,” Jamie said. “That doesn’t fill me with hope for going further through the stages.”
In Clare, the council is continuing to prepare a report for the Department of Housing, in a bid to provide evidence of the scale of the problem, and make the case for this county’s inclusion in the scheme.
Core sampling of five properties spread across Clare, has been carried out under the direction of expert architectural consultant Simon Beale. Details of the findings are due to be delivered to homeowners this week.
Founder of the Clare Pyrite Action Group, Dr Martina Cleary, told RTÉ on Tuesday that she hopes the council’s report can be submitted as soon as possible. The authority has also confirmed that testing is taking place at two council-built estates.
“We should be in the scheme now, the evidence is there,” Dr Cleary said.
Meanwhile, a mapping project (Micamap.com) has been initiated to enable homeowners, who have confirmed or suspected pyrite or mica, to show the location of their properties in a bid to create a visual representation of the scale of the problem nationally. The project is part of the ‘100% Redress’ campaign.
To-date, a number of Clare properties have been submitted by owners, including one on a council-built estate in Ennis.

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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