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Founder of the Clare Pyrite Action Group, Dr Martina Cleary (centre). Photograph by John Kelly

Pyrite ‘horror’ recalled at Oireachtas committee

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THE horror of discovering her home had pyrite was recalled by the founder of The Clare Pyrite Action Group (CPAG) before members of the Oireachtas Committee on Housing yesterday (June 23).
As part of what has been described as ‘accelerated’ scrutiny of the legislation to underpin a revised grant scheme, which will include Clare and Limerick, Dr Martina Cleary addressed the committee on Thursday. The seven-hour process, which also heard from expert engineering witnesses and Department of Housing officials, falls short of full Pre-Legislative Scrutiny (PLS), which the government has avoided in a bid to pass the law before the summer recess.
“On August 1, 2020, following a misdiagnosis by engineers, including those appointed by my insurance company, crumbling and rotting blocks were discovered behind the render of my small bungalow,” Dr Cleary told TDs and Senators. “In that moment my life changed, and the sustained nightmare of coming to terms with this began. The first shock was hearing from a local IS 465 engineer ten days later, that my home had suspected deleterious materials either pyrite or mica. That the damage was serious and would definitely worsen and while there was help available in Mayo and Donegal, there was no assistance whatsoever for homeowners in County Clare. When I asked if he had seen this problem in other houses, this engineer confirmed he had, in at least 40-50 in the Clare/Limerick region. The horror of discovering your home has this problem is impossible to fully describe to those who haven’t experienced this journey. It includes sleepless nights, fear of the danger, a continuous struggle to not only come to terms with the loss of your home, but also to try to understand how this could have ever happened.”
Dr Cleary also referred to Clare’s “sustained campaign”, after the setting up of the CPAG, which she said had been “arduous and relentless”, until June 14 when, the Government admitted Clare to grant scheme. “[It was] a milestone and achievement for every single person who has worked hard to secure this admission over the past two years,” Dr Cleary said.
At the two-hour hearing for homeowners, which was also attending by action group members from Mayo and Donegal, Dr Cleary outlined the CPAG’s reservations about the revised grant.
“There is most definitely Pyrite in County Clare, and now we know, on a far wider scale than was ever anticipated,” Dr Cleary said. “While it is a relief and a moment to acknowledge the achievement of every single one of us in getting this far, CPAG have followed the ongoing campaigns and situation in both Donegal and Mayo very carefully over the past year. While glad to be finally included, and this includes having the opportunity to speak to this committee today, we are also very concerned about a number of issues in the proposed new scheme. In the moment of arrival, of finally getting here, it is deeply disappointing and worrying to discover that this grant may not be fit for purpose after all.”
Multiple concerns were outlined about the Remediation of Dwellings Damaged by Defective Concrete Blocks Bill 2022, with campaigners highlighting many costs that will not be covered for homeowners.

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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