Flashpoints emerge over Government plan to tackle mica crisis

Resistance among campaigners to multiple parts of scheme

Homeowners from Donegal, Mayo and Clare demonstrating in Dublin in June over the mica controversy. Photograph: Tom Honan

Homeowners from Donegal, Mayo and Clare demonstrating in Dublin in June over the mica controversy. Photograph: Tom Honan

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Flashpoints have emerged around the Government’s plan to tackle the mica crisis, with campaigners hitting back against multiple parts of the scheme which emerged over the weekend to fix homes built with defective blocks.

It is understood the plan envisages raising the current maximum 90 per cent grant to 100 per cent, covering up to €420,000 for demolition and rebuild, with a rebuild cost of €138 per square foot.

However, the Mica Action Group was scathing about these and several other aspects of the putative scheme, which may go to Cabinet as soon as this Tuesday. Michael Doherty, a spokesman for the Mica Action Group, said the proposals as reported have given the group “massive concerns”.

Eamonn Jackson shows the mica damage to his home in Milford, Co Donegal. Photograph: Joe Dunne
Eamonn Jackson shows the mica damage to his home in Milford, Co Donegal. Photograph: Joe Dunne

“Based on what we’re seeing, we’re going to be looking at a complete outright rejection of the recommendations,” he said. The cost of demolishing and rebuilding a home, based on 43 cases so far, is closer to €150 a square foot, Mr Doherty said.

“On the average-sized house, the homeowner will be out €29,000 due to that €12 per foot [gap] between €138 and €150.” The campaigners have asked that the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) revisits its pricing model, which gave rise to the figure.

He said between 17 and 18 per cent of homeowners in the group would also have to pay more for works than the maximum €420,000 envisaged.

Scheme extension

Under plans set to go to Cabinet, the scheme will be extended beyond principal private residences only – to cover rental properties. However, Mr Doherty was strongly critical of aspects of how the cover had been extended, including that applicants would have to be registered with the Residential Tenancies Board as of November 1st this year, and that it would be limited to a single property per applicant. He also said the independent appeals process envisaged by the scheme wasn’t fit for purpose.

“This will mean people back on the streets of Dublin and an escalation to Plan B in the campaign,” he said – meaning putting pressure on Government-party TDs. “We believe there are sufficient discontents between Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens to force a vote of no confidence and come out the right side of it,” he said.

Joe McHugh, the Fine Gael TD for Donegal who has backed the mica campaign, said he was waiting to see the full details of the scheme. “The square footage figure is really important – it needs to be index linked and move with new SCSI figures which will be published in January 2022.”

The report suggested that a 100 per cent grant could be made available for remediation work that does not involve full demolition. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos Dublin
It is understood the Government's mica plan envisages raising the current maximum 90 per cent grant to 100 per cent, covering up to €420,000 for demolition and rebuild, with a rebuild cost of €138 per square foot. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos 

The scheme also envisages alternative accommodation costs up to €10,000 being covered. It is understood the masonry committee of the National Standards Authority of Ireland will be tasked with a special review of concrete blocks standards, including engagement with stakeholders and issuing recommendations.

Mica problems have emerged in homes in Clare, Limerick and Sligo after first surfacing in Donegal and Mayo.