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President signs off on controversial blocks Bill

Ennis College Further Education

CONTROVERSIAL legislation which revises the grant scheme for homeowners with defective concrete blocks has been signed into law by President Michael D Higgins. 

After the Bill passed through the Oireachtas earlier this month, as distraught campaigners looked on from the public gallery, and others protested outside Leinster House, the President signed the draft legislation at the end of last week.

A spokesperson for Áras an Uachtaráin said: “Having considered the Remediation of Dwellings Damaged by the Use of Defective Concrete Blocks Bill 2022, the President has signed the Bill and it has accordingly become law.” 

The terms of the new scheme have been sharply criticised by campaigners in Clare, as well as those in Mayo and Donegal where a grant has been available since 2020.

While there had been hopes that it would improve on the previous scheme, which covered only 90% of remediation cots, campaigners are adamant that homeowners will still be left seriously out of pocket.

Concerns have also been expressed about the damage threshold for access to the scheme, the certification process and the impact on homeowners’ rights to take action against manufacturers and providers of defective materials. 

Particular frustration was voiced about the very limited amount of time allowed for the discussion, in the Dáil, of more than 160 amendments, some of which were drawn up by the Clare Pyrite Action Group (CPAG) and by barrister and Clare TD Michael McNamara.

Ultimately, despite concern being raised by several of Clare’s Oireachtas members, Deputy McNamara was the only one to vote against the Bill. The controversy prompted Donegal TD Joe McHugh to resign the Fine Gael whip, and lost the government its technical majority.

A confidence motion was tabled by Sinn Féin, which party leader Mary Lou McDonald said was a way of responding to the distress of homeowners. The vote was won comfortably by the government, with the only Clare TD to oppose it being Deputy McNamara. 

The aim of activating the revised grant scheme before the end of the year was cited as the reason for speeding the Bill through the Oireachtas before the summer recess. 

The housing minister announced in June that Clare and Limerick will have access to the new scheme. It is expected that other counties will be provided with access in accordance with regulations issued by the minister. 

Fiona McGarry
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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.

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