Church leaders seek action on mica issues ‘peripheral to political agenda’

Bishops in west ‘gravely concerned’ at plight of families affected by building defects

Thousands of people from Donegal and Mayo protested in Dublin in June in support of a 100% redress scheme for homes and other buildings affected by blocks defective due to the mineral mica. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Thousands of people from Donegal and Mayo protested in Dublin in June in support of a 100% redress scheme for homes and other buildings affected by blocks defective due to the mineral mica. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Church leaders in the west of Ireland have called on the Government to offer “full and immediate redress” to the thousands of people whose homes have been affected by mica and pyrite defects.

“Homeowners in Leinster were awarded 100 per cent redress for the pyrite problems there. The citizens of Donegal, Mayo, Sligo, Tipperary, Clare and Limerick deserve no less,” they said.

In a joint statement they said “immediate action is needed to alleviate the mica/pyrite crisis which is affecting the health, wellbeing and safety of homeowners and their families. As church leaders, we are gravely concerned at the families’ plight.”

Five Catholic Bishops, four Church of Ireland Bishops, and the Presbyterian Moderator of Derry and Donegal said that “while many of our impacted citizens live on the periphery of our island, it is disturbing that their basic need for good housing also seems peripheral to the agenda of our political leaders.”

They said “a number of us have had the opportunity to visit some of the affected homes and heard from campaigners. Our foremost concern now is getting support for these families.” There appeared to be “a disparity in the way people in our region are being treated compared to those elsewhere,” they said.

Affected homeowners needed “three guarantees of support,” they said, “100 per cent redress from the Government”, as well as “a 40-year, State-backed scheme, guaranteeing full redress in the event of future problems; and the remedy of 100 per cent redress made available to all those affected.

“We realise there will be significant costs involved, but the State has found resources in the past to rescue the banking sector and, more recently, to deal with the pandemic.

“There may come a time for assigning responsibility for what has happened. One thing is certain, though: the homeowners are not to blame. The cost of repairing the damage is beyond the means of most families. The mica/pyrite scandal is now a test of our compassion as a society and of the State’s resolve to help its most vulnerable,” they said.

The Catholic bishops involved were Bishop of Killala John Fleming, Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown, Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran, Bishop of Raphoe Alan McGuckian, and Bishop of Achonry Paul Dempsey.

The Church of Ireland bishops were Bishop of Tuam, Killala, and Achonry Patrick Rooke, Bishop of Elphin Ferran Glenfield, and Bishop of Derry and Raphoe Andrew Forster, with the Presbyterian Church represented by Rev Keith Hibbert, Moderator of Derry & Donegal Presbytery.