AHEAD of a major protest in Ennis on Saturday (January 29), a short film has been released highlighting the struggle for redress of pyrite homeowners across the county.
The nine-minute film, by Simon Barr, is the third part of a series which also documents the mica crisis in Donegal and the impact of pyrite in Mayo. It hears from a number of homeowners, including a woman from Fanore who described how she had to sleep in her dining room at one point, amid fears that her gable wall would fall down during stormy weather.
The piece traces the foundation of the Clare Pyrite Action Group (CPAG) in September 2020 after Dr Martina Cleary put out an appeal for others affected to contact her. “Once I realised I wasn’t alone, there was great solace in that,” the Crusheen woman told Mr Barr.
The film goes on to follow the increasing numbers of homeowners that have come forward, with the membership of CPAG now standing at 124.
Dr Cleary also outlined efforts at official level to extend the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme to Clare.
“Despite the fact that the same level of rigorous analysis that has allowed 200 homes to get on the scheme in Mayo, despite the fact that one of the best labs in Europe has proven that we have virtually identical deleterious materials as Mayo, the department are still denying the fact that there’s enough evidence on the table to qualify County Clare for the scheme, so it’s just game-playing.”
The film also speaks to Eileen McMahon from Fanore who had works done on the gable of her home in an effort to address severe cracking.
“It was six weeks of horror,” she told Mr Barr. They took down the outside wall and we got three very bad storms while that was going on and they only had it barely held up with one piece of timber and three blocks. That’s what was holding my gable up.
My daughter and I slept in the dining room, so we weren’t near the gable in case it went in any of the storms. They [the cracks] are getting progressively worse. Every year, there’s a lot more. You can take pieces out of the wall out there now. It’s very sad that you have to go through all that again, after building your house once.”
Anthony O’Loughlin from Miltown also spoke to Mr Barr for the film. He outlined how he re-plastered the badly cracked external walls of his house, but to no avail. The cracks reappeared and tests revealed Category Four damage, with demolition and rebuilding recommended.
Danny Moloney from Kilkishen also outlined his situation. He spoke of his frustration at the fact that homeowners have gathered evidence of pyrite, but still don’t have access to the grant scheme, which continues to be limited to Counties Donegal and Mayo.
“They’re just fobbing it off,” he said. “They don’t want to know about the problem. They just want to hide it. In a few years time, they’ll probably be gone out of Government and it’ll be somebody else’s problem.
CPAG’s protest will assemble at the headquarters of Clare County Council at 2pm on Saturday and march towards The Height.