Mica scheme ‘unlikely’ to be brought to Government before budget – Coveney

Mica scheme to be ‘one of the largest support packages ever announced’

Details of a mica compensation scheme will not be published until a “few weeks” after the budget says Simon Coveney. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Details of a mica compensation scheme will not be published until a “few weeks” after the budget says Simon Coveney. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Details of a compensation scheme for thousands of homeowners whose properties have been significantly damaged by mica will not be published until a “few weeks” after the budget.

But Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said the package being put together “will be one of the largest financial support packages ever announced in respect of anything”.

He told Independent TD Thomas Pringle in whose Donegal constituency some 6,000 homes are affected that “it is unlikely that a package will be brought to Government in respect of this matter before the budget. I understand that it is probably a few weeks away yet.”

But he acknowledged “the anger and frustration felt by many families in respect of watching their homes literally crumble after having spent their life savings building them.

“The Government is going to respond to this issue,” he insisted. They did not have the final report from the Minister for Housing yet, “but we will have it in the coming weeks”.

Mr Pringle said people in Donegal, Mayo, Clare, Tipperary and other counties affected by mica, the mineral which causes blocks to crumble over time, were enraged by the leaks about redress before publication of the working group report on the grant scheme.

He said “it is a nothing report. It is a sham and a rehash of previous analysis.”

PR stunt

And he described as “disingenuous bulls**t” and a PR stunt, a letter the Minister sent to opposition TDs seeking their views to have a political consensus on the issue.

Mr Pringle said that “neither he nor the Government have shown the slightest bit of interest in any of our ideas. The Government has treated ideas, proposals and suggestions from the Opposition on all topics with a belligerence and contempt that stems from an unfounded confidence bordering on arrogance.

“It was disingenuous bulls**t to send that letter out to us,” he said as he asked if the redress scheme would be published in the budget next week.

Intervene

Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl intervened and said that “notwithstanding the fact that people can be angry and frustrated by events, we should try to adhere to the use of proper parliamentary language”.

Mr Coveney said he understood the anger and frustration of families “watching their homes literally crumble after having spent their life savings building them”.

They will have Mr O’Brien’s report in the coming weeks. But it’s a matter for the Minister for Housing and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to “decide how we plan for that in the context of the budget”.

He acknowledged that “we need to get it right and we need to listen to people”. They had tried to listen and take on board different views.

Mr Coveney added that Mr Pringle might dismiss the Minister’s letter to opposition TDs “as a PR exercise if you want” but it was a “genuine effort to try to get all-party consensus in terms of how we can provide a financial support package for the families involved”.

He did not have an “exact date” “but we will approve that package in the next few weeks. People will not have to wait too much longer to see the detail of that package.”