Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said resolving the structural problems in hundreds of homes affected by mica issues will necessitate a “massive programme” of spending on a scale never seen in the State before.
The Taoiseach said that the solution the Government was working on to resolve the long-running issue was complicated and costly.
He said it was far more complex than simply offering affected homeowners in Donegal, Mayo, Clare and other counties 100 per cent redress.
He said there were issues in relation to the type of house affected, house size, whether the State should foot the rental bill for homeowners while homes were being rebuilt and how upfront costs would be dealt with.
Mica, a crumbling defective substance used in the construction of homes and buildings predominantly in the northwest of the country, has left many families in uncertainty regarding their futures as it causes structural issues in their homes.
Speaking in Dublin on Wednesday, the Taoiseach said work was still to be done on “the structure by which we will deliver this massive programme, and it will be a massive programme.
“The scale of this is quite unprecedented in terms of Government intervention.”
The issue would go before Cabinet some time in October, Mr Martin added.
Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien is expected to receive the redress report of a working group into the mica controversy on Thursday before bringing it to Cabinet.
Mr O’Brien met campaigners for mica compensation on Wednesday evening. He acknowledged that the current capped redress scheme for affected homeowners is not working as originally intended.
“The homeowner representatives have submitted a very detailed proposal as to what they wish to see in an enhanced scheme and I would like to thank them for their engagement and proposals,” he said.
“I expect to have receipt of the report of the working group tomorrow which I will then consider.
“As for the next steps, I will, along with the Taoiseach, Tánaiste, Minister [Eamon] Ryan, Minister [for Finance Paschal] Donohoe and Minister [for Public Expenditure Michael] McGrath, and with input from the Attorney General, consider proposals which can then be presented to Cabinet in a memo.”
He added: “I intend to bring this memo to Cabinet in the coming weeks. I agree wholeheartedly with the homeowner representatives that what has happened to them is through absolutely no fault of their own.
“Let me be very clear that there will be no delaying this process. I absolutely understand the urgency associated with this matter and I want a scheme which works for people.
“As I have said from the start, enhancements to the scheme will be required and will be made with whole of Government approval. I will be meeting with and briefing colleagues in Government on this matter over the coming days.”
Mr O’Brien met the campaigners on Wednesday in the knowledge that some officials in his department do not believe an uncapped redress scheme is feasible.
Mr O’Brien had earlier said it is “understandable” that mica homeowner representatives on the working group might not sign off on its redress report.
The working group was set up this summer to examine the issue of redress following significant pressure on the Government and it comprises officials from the Department of Housing and representatives of affected homeowners.
Despite their membership on the group, the representatives say they have not received a copy of the final report on redress.
Eileen Doherty, campaigners’ representative and group member, warned that the homeowner representatives may not sign off on it given the delays. She said multiple requests have been made to see the report.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland on Wednesday, Mr O’Brien said the Government could offer extra time to examine the report.
Mr O’Brien said “nothing is off the table” when it comes to the mica redress scheme. He said he was “absolutely committed” to improving the scheme. “I know how important this is. I want to help. This is a serious process.”Any scheme would “more than likely” require legislation, he added.
Mr O’Brien also said the scheme could cost taxpayers €1.5 billion. “That can’t be ignored,” said Mr O’Brien.
When asked if banks should be involved in the compensation scheme, Mr O’Brien said he expected various stakeholders to be involved and he had asked the Attorney General to examine what legal recourse the State had. But he believed that those directly responsible for issues – the building sector, quarries and others – have to make contributions.
Later on the same programme Brian Hayes of the Banking & Payments Federation said the responsibility for the mica problem did not lie with banks. Banks had provided what assistance they could such as payment breaks, credit lines etc to those affected. “The question is who is responsible for this? Where does culpability lie?”