Mica group members warn they may not sign off on final report

Opposition remains to introducing redress scheme for homeowners without a cap

July 31st, 2021: Families affected by mica in Donegal are facing huge bills as talks with the Government over redress have stalled. Video: Enda O'Dowd

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Members of the Government working group set up to examine the defective concrete block scheme have warned they may not sign off on the final report as they have not yet been supplied with a draft version.

The members, representatives of affected homeowners, said they have asked repeatedly since last week for a copy of the final report to be given to Government on Thursday.

The document will examine the question of redress for those in houses affected by defective mica bricks, and Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien will make the final decision alongside Cabinet colleagues.

The working group was set up earlier this year following significant pressure from campaigners, and it comprises officials from the Department of Housing and homeowner representatives.

Equal partners

Eileen Doherty, campaigners’ representative and group member, said: “We are part of the working group. As of yet, they have not shown us the draft of that document, of which we are equal partners.

“I don’t know if they expect us to go in and sign off on a draft we have not seen. We have asked repeatedly since last Thursday for a draft version, and on the day before the final meeting we still have not received a copy,” said Ms Doherty.

“The detail of this documentation is the culmination of years of work. We can’t afford to sign off on something that we have not had the opportunity to review.”

Campaigners have sought a scheme providing for 100 per cent redress, a 40-year State guarantee and public inquiry.

There is opposition in the department, however, to introducing a scheme without a cap amid concerns about exposure for the taxpayer.

Very large homes

Sources say the crux of the concerns are that some very large homes in areas such as Donegal could cost well beyond €500,000 to repair or rebuild. Around 5,000 homes are said to be affected in Donegal.

But representatives say houses above 4,000sq ft represent only about 5 per cent of affected homes there.

They say no homeowner should be left out, regardless of property size.

A meeting is due on Wednesday evening between Mr O’Brien and the representatives.

At least another 700 homes in Mayo could be affected, along with homes in counties Sligo, Clare and Limerick, extending the cost of a redress scheme.

Mica is a mineral that can absorb water, leading to cracks and crumbling in blocks.

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