Some quarries doing ‘side deals’, mica hearing told

Faulty building materials is still being produced by a numbe of quarries, committee told

Some quarry owners are deliberately “suppressing” information about deleterious materials in concrete and several politicians may be aware of this, TDs were told on Thursday.

During a series of hearings on a new mica grant scheme, the Oireachtas committee on housing was told by consultant engineer Aidan O’Connell that some quarries are doing “side deals” with affected homeowners and are still producing unsatisfactory building materials, as he suggested some TDs may be aware of the issues.

“Some of the difficulties we’re are having, and I understand this is a public forum, but some of the difficulties we are having is the quarry owners recognise they have a problem, and they are suppressing the information and some of the damage and doing some side deals with homeowners.

“Ultimately, I believe it is going to come out, where all of these locations are.”

Mr O’Connell said some quarries are still producing building materials knowing they are “wholly unsatisfactory”.

He said he believed some TDs knew this to be the case and added: “I encourage them to use their authority to get it stopped.”

Will the government take any pre-budget action?

Questioning the Department of Housing later on Thursday, Soc Dems TD Cian O’Callaghan said the committee was told “by a highly qualified and experienced engineer with expertise in this area that he is aware of at least one quarry that is still producing substandard material that is leading to serious structural damage in homes. So that is what is actually happening right now today in this country at the same time as this piece of legislation is in front of us, which is going to involve considerable expenditure.”

Senior adviser in the Department of Housing John Wickham pointed towards the market surveillance office and called for any information about unsatisfactory practices to be brought “to the powers-that-be who are more than competent to deal with that”.

Earlier in the day, homeowners affected by pyrite and mica called on the Government to allow them to downsize their homes without having their grants cut.

Last year, the Cabinet agreed to finance a €2.2 billion scheme — the cost of which has now increased to at least €2.7 billion — to rebuild an estimated affected 7,500 homes.