Pyrite rally in Mayo: ‘Everyone we meet is in emotional turmoil’

‘Huge stresses’ faced by people in affected in houses as event hears of increased GP visits

The toll of living in pyrite-affected homes in Co Mayo on a growing number of people’s mental and physical health has been set out at a public rally in Ballina.

Speakers at the event, organised by the North Mayo Pyrite Group and attended by a crowd of around 600, explained the “huge stresses” facing affected homeowners. This pressure was reflected in increased GP visits and dependence on medication for blood pressure and depression, the event heard.

“Everyone we meet is in emotional turmoil,” said Martina Hegarty, who chaired the rally.“The anxiety of living with knowing your house is coming down and the mental anguish that is associated with it really is not discussed often enough.

“There have been numerous GP visits, there have been hospital stays. We dread answering the phone to hear from some other homeowner about the distress they are in.”


Ms Hegarty’s former home in Crossmolina has been demolished because of the defective blocks issue. The foundations for a new house, on the footprint of the old building, are due to be put in place on Friday.

“I don’t know whether I am coming or going,” said Barbara Clinton, whose pyrite-riddled, four-bed semidetached house is to be demolished in the coming weeks. “I know that I am not going to have all the money to cover the costs involved. I’m five years off retirement. I don’t know what financial organisation is going to help me.”

The meeting, held on Monday night in the Great National Hotel, Ballina, heard that 400 families and individuals have applied to Mayo County Council under the defective concrete block scheme but at least a further 1,000 homeowners in the region are affected. The defective blocks issue was initially confined to north Mayo but problems are now emerging further south in Westport and Castlebar.

Concern was expressed at the meeting that the redress scheme does not cover boundary walls and over the fact that there is no funding for testing foundations to confirm if they are defective. Despite the scale of the pyrite/mica problem in Mayo, there are no plans to take the campaign into the political arena.

Ms Hegarty said she had been asked to stand in the forthcoming local elections but has decided not to do so.

“I know our counterparts in Donegal have a number of candidates who will be running and the best of luck to them. I hope they get elected,” she said. “In fairness, our own local councillors are putting up a fight on our behalf.”

Two Midlands-North-West MEPs, Independent Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan and Fine Gael’s Maria Walsh, attended the Ballina meeting, as did two Mayo TDs - Fianna Fáil Minister of State Dara Calleary and Sinn Féin’s Rose Conway Walsh.

Responding to calls at the rally for a public inquiry, Mr Calleary said progress is being made.

He said Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien is identifying a senior counsel and “identifying the resources that are needed to stand up an inquiry and find out who is responsible”.

“Those who are behind this must be found accountable,” he said.