Fine Gael TDs pushing back against plans for capped mica compensation package

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien says nothing is off the table when it comes to possible solutions

 Mica has led to apparent defects in building blocks used in at least 5,000 homes in the northwest, causing cracks to open up in thousands of buildings. Photograph: Joe Dunne

Mica has led to apparent defects in building blocks used in at least 5,000 homes in the northwest, causing cracks to open up in thousands of buildings. Photograph: Joe Dunne

 

Fine Gael TDs are pushing back against plans to create a mica compensation package that would put a cap on the level of redress affected homeowners could receive.

There is growing disquiet among some in the party about the planned scheme, with TDs Joe Carey, Joe McHugh and Alan Dillon seeking a meeting with Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien this week to discuss Government plans and to press for all those affected by the problem to be fully compensated.

Micas, minerals occurring in the ground and in rocks, have led to apparent defects in thousands of homes in the northwest. Affected homeowners have reported cracks opening up in their properties and videos posted online show load-bearing blocks crumbling in people’s hands.

One option under consideration to help those affected would involve a cut-off point of, for example, €500,000, in the scheme. Officials are examining giving homeowners a certain amount per square metre or square foot, which would likely see a vast majority fully covered.

However, Fine Gael sources said there was growing push back against the plan amid fears it might not provide all those affected with 100 per cent redress, which campaigners have demanded.

There is concern in Government about creating a scheme without a cap, with one source saying some kind of limit will be needed. The belief is that a vast majority of homeowners will receive full redress but that some larger, one-off houses will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Solutions

Mr O’Brien is to meet families affected by the issue in the northwest on Wednesday. He on Monday insisted that nothing was off the table when it came to possible solutions.

He said the scheme he would bring to Cabinet in the coming weeks for approval would inevitably require State investment, but that “those responsible and other sectors” should also contribute to the costs.

He played down reports that officials from his department had told homeowners they would not get the 100 per cent remediation they have been seeking. Mr O’Brien said it would be him rather than his officials who made any recommendations to Cabinet on the scheme.

The department’s working group is expected to make its recommendations on Wednesday or Thursday, with a final plan to be brought to Cabinet in the coming weeks.