‘Absolutely fair’ to use public funds for larger mica-damaged homes

Even owners of houses bigger than average must be ‘fully supported’, says McConalogue

Donegal TD  Charlie McConalogue: About 60 per cent of homes in the county are one-off properties and such homes tend to be larger than those in estates.  Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Donegal TD Charlie McConalogue: About 60 per cent of homes in the county are one-off properties and such homes tend to be larger than those in estates. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

 

Minister for Agriculture and Donegal TD Charlie McConalogue has insisted it is “absolutely fair” for homeowners of mica-damaged properties to have them replaced using public funds even in instances where the buildings are above average house sizes elsewhere.

He said the mica issue was a “tragedy” that meant homeowners needed to be fully supported.

In November, the Government announced €2.2 billion in funding to repair or rebuild up to 7,500 crumbling homes in Donegal and Mayo which are affected by defective blocks.

The funding will be capped at €420,000 per home, up from €247,500 under a previous version of the scheme.

Campaigners and opposition politicians have called for a controversial sliding scale for financial supports to be dropped amid claims that it means homeowners won’t get 100 per cent redress and will have to contribute tens of thousands of euro to rebuild their houses.

The indicative figures for the sliding scale are €145 per square foot for the first 1,000sq ft of a home, €110 for the next 1,000sq ft and then €100 per square foot after that.

Sliding scale

Mr McConalogue has previously defended the Government’s plans, saying the rates will be reviewed and decided upon by the the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) each year to reflect market rates. He has suggested the sliding scale may not ultimately end up in the scheme.

The average size of mica-impacted properties in Donegal is about 2,300sq ft, almost twice the floor area of an average three-bedroom house in Ireland.

In an interview with The Irish Times, Mr McConalogue was asked why there should be 100 per cent redress for larger homes than many people elsewhere in the country live in.

Mr McConalogue said mica was a “real tragedy” that was going to require public funds to fix and the homeowners “need to be fully supported”.

He added: “It has been no fault of theirs that they have found themselves in a situation where their lives have been turned upside down by the fact that their houses have been impacted by this problem.”

One-off properties

He said they built their homes, were still paying mortgages in the vast majority of cases and needed the financial support “to be able to get on with their lives”.

Mr McConalogue said it was “appropriate” that they got that support from the State while also saying there were limits on the scheme with the cap of €420,000.

He also said that about 60 per cent of homes in Donegal were one-off properties and that such homes tended to be larger than those in estates.

“Certainly in Dublin, your average house in an estate will be more modest but if you take other counties, whether east coast counties or elsewhere again you have a similar pattern to Donegal.

“I think the important thing is what’s been covered is family homes. And if the homeowner had built a family home – even if it is above the average size and then invested in that and put their money into it - I think it’s absolutely fair that they get the opportunity to have that replaced.”

Mr McConalogue said he believed the campaigners were “very much considering the scheme”.

“The one outstanding issue that homeowner want to see clarity on and confirmation on is the fact that the scheme will probably reflect the market costs.”

He said costs would be updated in advance of the scheme going live and he believed it would “stand the test of time”.