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‘Voices need to be heard’

Clare TD questions county’s exclusion from pyrite scheme review

THE Tanáiste has said that homeowners in Clare, whose properties are being damaged by pyrite, will have to be included in efforts to assess the effectiveness of a State-supported remediation scheme.
Leo Varadkar made his remarks in response to a Dáil question from Deputy Violet Anne Wynne who voiced concern as to why a working group, set up to review the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme, had failed to include a representative from this county. The Clare Sinn Féin TD said that while the establishment of the group was a positive move, the government could not continue to ignore the people of this county.
“I would like to know why a representative from the Clare pyrite group was not invited and included,” she said.
“This is completely unacceptable, disheartening and, quite simply, not good enough. It has taken 12 years to get to this point for those affected in Mayo and Donegal. I know, as does the Tánaiste, that people in County Clare will not tolerate the continued attitude of the Government of burying its head in the sand.”
Among the issues being examined by the working group, which currently only includes representatives from Donegal and Mayo, who are eligible to access scheme, is the feasibility of increasing the State contribution from 90% to 100% of remediation costs.
This call was the focus of a protest in Dublin in June, as was a push to have the grant scheme extended to other counties, including Clare.
As the local authority here continues to compile a report, at the request of government, to prove the extent of the problem in this county, Deputy Wynne asked that the working group be widened to include a Clare representative.
“I ask the Tánaiste to ensure that any further discussions held on this serious matter will include a representative from the Clare pyrite group, namely, the founder and chairperson, Dr Martina Cleary,” she said. “Their voices need to be included and heard.”
In reply to Deputy Wynne’s question, the Tánaiste said he didn’t know why nobody from Clare had been invited onto the working group.
“I do know that mica and pyrite have affected homes in Clare and Limerick and that it is not just an issue in Mayo and Donegal,” he said.
“We will have to ensure that they are part of the solution in some way. I will let the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Deputy Darragh O’Brien, know that the Deputy raised the issue and ask him to come back to her on it.”
Coinciding with the protest last month, Sinn Féin successfully tabled a motion calling for an increase in redress from 90% to 100% for affected homeowners in Donegal and Mayo.
The government then set up the 12-person working group to review the existing grant scheme and to report by July 31. It is understood that Minister O’Brien asked three people from the mica campaign group in Donegal and three people from the northwest group, representing homeowners in Mayo and Sligo, to join the review group along with officials from his department and staff of Donegal County Council.
The working group met for a second time on Wednesday (July 7).

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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