Existing housing shortage in Donegal will add to mica challenge, says Taoiseach

Commitment given to help those families who have to move during work on homes

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

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

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Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said the existing shortage of housing in Donegal will add to the challenge of addressing the problems caused by mica but that sufficient resources will be made available to ensure the required work is done.

With over 6,000 homes in the county to be remediated or replaced under a State-backed scheme, the Taoiseach said a lot of work would need to be done on phasing the work to ensure that it was feasible for families to find alternative accommodation.

Asked about the impact of the scheme itself given the current housing situation in Donegal, Mr Martin said: “There are very substantial resources being made available through the mica scheme.

“I think a lot of work still has to be done in terms of that phasing, but there will be challenges, of that there is no doubt, because of the fact that quite a substantial number of houses will have to be refurbished or redone again and some will have to be rebuilt.

“People will have to seek alternative accommodation for a period whilst that work is underway. So the resources are provided to enable people to rent whilst the houses are rebuilt but it will be challenging because of the overall shortage of housing in the country and that’s manifest in Donegal.

“We will work with local authorities there and those housing agencies to see what we can do in the interim.”

He added: “There is no super solution to that, just have to work with people and if we can work things through.”

Asked whether people might have to move away from Donegal while their homes were being repaired or rebuilt, he said had did “not anticipate” that happening.

The mica redress scheme, announced by Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien is the largest scheme of its kind ever announced by the State and will ultimately cost the taxpayer an estimated €2.2 billion.

The compensation scheme was for 7,500 homeowners in Donegal and Mayo whose homes were affected by defective blocks containing mica.

However campaign groups reacted with disappointment, claiming that homeowners would still have to fork out as much as €60,000 to rebuild houses of average size (2,400 feet in Donegal). They objected in particular to the sliding scale of the per-foot rebuilding cost, which falls after the first 1,000 square feet.