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Deputy Violet Anne Wynne has questioned the competence of the Housing Minister over delays with the new pyrite grant scheme.

Wynne questions housing minister’s competence over pyrite grant delays

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THE competence of the Minister for Housing has been called into question as uncertainty continues over exactly when the grant scheme for Clare homeowners with defective blocks will open. 

Following a meeting in Ennis two weeks ago, Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne tabled two Parliamentary Questions (PQs) asking Minister Darragh O’Brien for an update. The Kilrush-based TD also asked what additional resources would be provided to Clare County Council to assist in the processing of applications from homeowners here. The Independent TD was waiting several days for a reply from the minister, who said he hoped the scheme’s regulations would be signed “in the coming weeks”. She told The Champion that, a year after the minister agreed to include Clare and Limerick in the new grant scheme, the vague reply and ongoing lack of clarity were unacceptable. “I’ve heard about the stress, strain and health implications of having pyrite, of living in damaged and cracked homes and the longer homeowners are left without support, the worse the situation is for them and their families,” Deputy Wynne said. “At this stage, you would have to question the competence of the Housing Minister in regard to this issue. The response has no definitive [start] date or commitment. All I’ve been told is the scheme will open in the coming weeks, which is really disappointing. At this point in time now, Clare Pyrite Action Group (CPAG) have had to wait far too long for the opening of the grant. Even when the grant opens, that’s not the end of the road, so these delays are just not acceptable and clarity is needed.”

Last Thursday, Deputy Wynne asked the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage when he expects the enhanced grant scheme for the remediation of dwellings damaged by the use of defective concrete blocks in County Clare to open. It followed a meeting of CPAG on June 16, on which Deputy Cathal Crowe gave an assurance that Clare homeowners would be able to apply for the grant in “five, to five-and-a-half weeks”. 

In response to Deputy Wynne’s PQ, Minister O’Brien noted that, “the administrative areas of the following counties have been designated by the 2022 Act for the purposes of the enhanced grant scheme: Clare County Council; Donegal County Council; Limerick City and County Council; Mayo County Council”.

He acknowledged Clare County Council’s request for additional support, saying, “My Department received a request from the local authority referred to for additional staff to support the work for the roll out of the enhanced scheme which is being considered by my Department”.

“The 2022 Act which contains the enhanced grant scheme will be commenced as soon as related Regulations are completed,” Minister O’Brien added. “The Regulations will provide details for the enhanced scheme not included in the 2022 Act such as application forms and templates, per square metre grant rates and the definition of damage.

“I aim to commence the 2022 Act and adopt the Regulations in the coming weeks. Comprehensive information of all aspects of the Scheme will be made available online for all existing and potential applicants once commenced.”

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