Families affected by Mica ‘shouldn’t be left to fend for themselves’, says Doherty

Sinn Féin TD says it must be ensured that €2.2bn redress scheme is ‘fit for purpose’

 Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty: ‘This is a scandal that has devastated the lives of ordinary families and it’s a direct consequence of the Celtic Tiger era.’ Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty: ‘This is a scandal that has devastated the lives of ordinary families and it’s a direct consequence of the Celtic Tiger era.’ Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

The prospect of the Government losing a TD has receded after it agreed to finance a €2.2 billion scheme for the estimated 7,500 homes in Donegal and Mayo which have been structurally damaged by Mica.

The Cabinet agreed to a scheme where 100 per cent redress will be available to affected homes up to a limit of €420,000 per home.

Earlier this month Donegal TD Joe McHugh said he would “consider all options” including the possibility of quitting Fine Gael if the scheme did not meet the expectations of affected homeowners. He gave the scheme a “cautious welcome” on Tuesday.

Other Government TDs who had back the homeowners’ demands also welcomed the measures.

Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue, a Fianna Fáil Donegal TD, described it as a “strong overall scheme” that will satisfy the demands of the campaign groups and “stand the test of time”.

His party colleague, Mayo TD Dara Calleary welcomed “significant progress” on the scheme highlighting the “fall in the entry costs, the 100 per cent commitment” and the inclusion of rental properties and mental health supports.

In the Dáil, Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty said families affected by the Mica scandal “shouldn’t be left to fend for themselves” and it must be ensured that the redress scheme is “fit for purpose”.

Mr Doherty said the families involved are “going through a terrible situation”.

The Donegal TD said as details of the scheme emerged many families would be facing a shortfall of between €45,000 and €56,000 in rebuilding costs.

“These campaigners won the hearts and minds of the Irish nation,” Mr Doherty said. “This is a scandal that has devastated the lives of ordinary families and it’s a direct consequence of the Celtic Tiger era, an era of no regulation and light touch regulation.”

His party colleague Pádraig Mac Lochlainn claimed that Mica impacted homeowners are not getting the same level of assistance as those who were helped under the Pyrite Resolution Scheme in Leinster.

“Why are families in the west of Ireland being asked to fend for themselves and forced to negotiate prices with building contractors in a market with steep rising prices?” he asked.

Independent TD Thomas Pringle said affected families in Donegal were facing “the same again” and that they “can’t afford this scheme and they couldn’t afford the last scheme”.

He said the new proposals were “an advance – but they do not go far enough.”

‘We need to rebuild’

Taoiseach Micheál Martin urged affected homeowners to accept the new plan and said the level of State intervention was “unprecedented”. He said the scheme was “a substantial contribution by taxpayers and the Exchequer to any housing remediation scheme”.

“I have no issue with sorting this out and helping families to rebuild their homes. I have been in houses where I have seen how devastating this is for families. We need to rebuild these houses, but we need to get on with it and get it done,” he said.

“I have been in Government for about 18 months. This has been going on for years … We can have more and more campaigns, but nothing gets done in the meantime. We can get the scheme up and running.”

He said the Housing Agency will play a “central role” in helping homeowners.

“This level of State intervention is unprecedented. It has never happened previously at the level it is happening now. It is because it is a social priority,” he added.

However, Mica action group spokesman Michael Doherty told RTÉ’s News at One that the scheme “discriminates against bigger houses” due to the €420,000 cap and the per-square-foot allowable cost which drops after the first 1,000 square feet.

“That has a massive implication. We know that the average size house is between 2,300 and 2,400 square feet if you’ve got €145 for the first 1,000 square feet, the biggest part of your house is on a sliding scale, not the smallest part and that’s not something we can accept.

“It reinforces the situation we face time and time again, we get a headline, and then we get the devil in the details which detracts from it somewhat which is extremely unfortunate,” Mr Doherty said.