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Deputy Joe Carey

Taoiseach confirms primary legislation for blocks grant


TAOISEACH Micheál Martin has confirmed to Clare’s Fine Gael TD that the new defective blocks grant scheme will be introduced by way of primary legislation. He warned, however, that a consultative process as part of the legislative drafting could further delay the new scheme. 

In response to concerns from pyrite and mica action groups, including that in Clare, Deputy Joe Carey raised the matter directly with the Taoiseach.

He asked for clarity on what kind of consultation will take place on the new scheme. Clare Pyrite Action Group (CPAG), and others, have raised concerns over numerous aspects of the enhanced grant, including the updated damage threshold for affected homes. Last week the CPAG wrote to all Oireachtas members to tell them that a process without pre-legislative scrutiny must be opposed.

“Householders in County Clare are anxiously awaiting admission to the enhanced defective concrete block scheme,” Deputy Carey reminded the Taoiseach.

“Further laboratory analysis of affected homes in County Clare has taken place and categorically demonstrates the presence of pyrite. The work was carried out by Clare County Council, in conjunction with the engineer, Mr Simon Beale. It clearly warrants the immediate extension of the defective concrete blocks scheme to County Clare.

“Will the Taoiseach confirm to the House that the enhanced defective concrete block scheme will be underpinned by legislation as opposed to a statutory instrument? Will he also confirm that pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill will take place? When does he expect this legislation will come before the House?”

In response, Micheál Martin said he hopes the the legislation will be forthcoming in the next number of weeks.

“I will double-check that with the Minister,” he said. “We will reflect on the request for pre-legislative scrutiny. Everyone should be aware that pre-legislative scrutiny will delay the scheme for months and months.

“We will be attacked when the scheme is not operational and houses are not being done. I am anxious to get moving and get things done in this regard. There are approximately 300 houses in Donegal on which works could start. We need to start.”

Deputy Joe Carey pressed the Taoiseach on whether there will be primary legislation as opposed to a statutory instrument. The latter is a type of secondary legislation which could take the form of an order or scheme.

“There will be primary legislation,” the Taoiseach confirmed.

Meanwhile, a two-day conference on the impact of defective concrete blocks will take place next Monday and Tuesday, organised by Technological University of the Shannon (TUS) lecturer and Chairperson of the Clare Pyrite Action Group (CPAG), Dr Martina Cleary.

Entitled ‘Losing Your Home – The Impact of Defective Concrete Blocks in Ireland’, the key note speaker will be Deputy Eoin Ó Broin. Sinn Féin spokesperson on housing, he is also the author of Defects – Living with the Legacy of the Celtic Tiger. Also presenting will be expert engineers Simon Beale and Aidan O’Connell.

Representatives of Petrolab, Corinne Garner and Bradley Stanifort, will also attend the virtual event and panel discussions will be chaired by Dr Cleary and Mary Hanley of the CPAG. Deputy Michael McNamara will also address the conference as well Mayo’s Deputy Rose Conway Walsh and advocates Josephine Murray and Connor O’Donnell from the action group there. 

Siobhan O’Neill of Carmody ONeill; Alan Carr Lecturer, Department of Built Environment at TUS and Séamus Maye of the International Small Business Alliance will address Monday’s conference session. 

As the scale and scope of the problem broadens, so too does the need to establish a community of expertise to address the widening crisis, organisers said. 

Themes include: ‘Living with Defective Concrete Blocks – Impacted Homeowner Perspectives’, ‘Engineering and Technical Analysis’, ‘Governance and Regulation’, ‘Rebuilding Options’ and ‘Future Thinking, Physical and Mental Health Impacts’.

More details of the full conference can be found on Eventbrite.ie. 

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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