Minister under pressure to drop mica redress sliding scale

Group warns of renewed protests in Dublin if proposal is not dropped before Christmas

Mica protest: Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien defended the mica redress plan, saying the rates were ‘indicative’.Photograph: Laura Hutton

Mica protest: Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien defended the mica redress plan, saying the rates were ‘indicative’.Photograph: Laura Hutton

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Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien is under pressure from homeowners in the northwest to drop proposals to finance on a sliding scale the rebuilding of mica-damaged homes.

The Mica Action Group has warned of renewed protests in Dublin if the sliding scale is not dropped before Christmas.

Sinn Féin has called for it to be removed immediately and Government backbenchers have also voiced concerns.

Under the plans announced on Tuesday the cap on the sum a homeowner can get from the Defective Concrete Block Scheme was raised to €420,000.

A sliding scale of financial supports would cover rebuilding costs at €145 per square foot for the first 1,000sq ft of a home, €110 for the next 1,000sq ft, and €100 per square foot after that.

The Mica Action Group has called for a flat rate of €145 per square foot, claiming the rates in the plan would see homeowners having to contribute about €65,000 of their own funds to rebuild.

‘Indicative’ rates

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien defended the plan, saying the rates were “indicative” and an independent review of them would be carried out by Chartered Surveyors of Ireland in February.

In the Dáil, Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty said the scheme was not “100 per cent redress” and was “nowhere near it”.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin accused Mr Doherty of “feigned outrage” and insisted the scheme would deal “comprehensively” with issues raised by residents.

Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey raised “significant concern” about the sliding scale among homeowners in his county, where those with defective blocks in their properties hope to be included in the scheme. One person told him they would have to contribute €67,000 to remediation costs for a 2,500sq ft home.

Mr Martin said figures are “being plucked out of air” and his understanding was €300,000 would be on offer to rebuild a home of that size, along with €20,000 for rent and storage costs.

Donegal Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh earlier claimed on RTÉ radio the sliding scale “makes absolutely no sense”.

When pressed on Wednesday, Mr McHugh, who last month said he would consider leaving Fine Gael if the scheme did not meet homeowners’ expectations, did not offer a clear answer on whether he would leave the party. He said if homeowners were excluded by the need to contribute money themselves “I’ll not be standing over this scheme”.

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