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Wynne slams ‘delaying tactics’ on access to blocks redress scheme

CLARE’S Sinn Féin TD has hit out at what she described as “the ongoing inaction by the government” in response to Clare homeowners affected by pyrite and mica.
Deputy Violet Anne Wynne described the recent announcement that bringing Clare homeowners into the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme will require the advice of the Attorney General (AG) and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, as “a delaying tactic”.
“The recent statement by Minister [Darragh] O’Brien is more of the same,” the Kilrush resident said.
“[It’s] a delaying tactic in what is inevitable and has been rigorously proven as such. There are at least 90 homes and two estates affected by pyrite defective blocks, but the real number may indeed be much higher. The government’s stall tactics add insult to injury.”
Deputy Wynne also repeated concerns over the burden of stress placed on those affected by defective materials including pyrite and mica.
“Based on my engagement with the Clare Pyrite Action Group and the people on the ground here in Clare, there is a high level of stress and anxiety among families affected by pyrite/mica defective blocks,” she said.
“The physical deterioration of their properties is one thing, but the government’s lack of responsibility is creating its own impact of psychological damage.
“These homes are crumbling, and these families are falling apart and there seems to be no accountability.”
The Sinn Fein member also accused the State of failing in its duty of care by ignoring the repercussions for individuals and families.
“The negligence on behalf of the state to address the issue meaningfully and offer the appropriate redress to affected families is causing serious illness; breakdown of marriages and families and it is putting a lot of people in very dangerous circumstances,” she said.
“At the minute the redress scheme is very complicated, there is no support, financial or logistical, with the application itself.
“The application process and requirements are not something the average person can undertake. There is a huge lack of support in every area of the process.”
While Minister O’Brien indicated on a visit to Clare at the end of August that a decision on this county’s admission to the grant scheme would be made in “a matter of weeks”, there was no white smoke at the time of going to print [Wednesday].
“In Clare, homeowners continue to be kept in the dark as they still haven’t even been officially included in the redress scheme and waiting all of this time is making things worse,” Deputy Wynne said.
“There’s two things at hand here, one being to get Clare homeowners onto the scheme, and the second being to get the scheme actually fit-for-purpose, none of this 90% redress malarky.”
Deputy Wynne also noted confusion over the grant scheme in Donegal and Mayo, the only two counties who have access to redress to date.
“It’s still unclear what discretion local authorities will have in determining eligibility for the scheme, and if there will be difference between the inclusion criteria between counties – Clare folk have many reasons to be anxious,” she said.
Regulation of the construction sector was also highlighted.
“Something that is very important for everyone to remember in this is that, this is absolutely no fault of the people,” she said.
“These blocks were bought in good faith, assurance was given that they were CE certified, but now we see that the blocks are defective – that is on the government and the light-touch building regulations that allowed unregulated construction materials and developments to plough ahead.
“This is a classic case of government negligence and then denial of accountability when something goes wrong.
“The government has a duty of care to its citizens and has a positive obligation to offer redress to the homeowners who are seeing their dreams and their futures crumble before their eyes.”

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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