Only 61 defective homes fully remediated under scheme launched in 2021, committee hears

Government yet to appoint senior counsel to investigate defective blocks controversy despite promise last year

Only 61 homes with defective blocks have been fully remediated under a Government grant scheme which was first opened nearly four years ago.

The Oireachtas Committee on Housing has also been told that the Government has yet to appoint a senior counsel to investigate the defective blocks controversy, despite promising it would do so last year.

The committee heard that only €44 million has been spent out of an earmarked €100m defective blocks budget since 2021.

The committee heard an update on the Government’s defective blocks scheme from the Department of Housing, the Housing Agency, County and City Management Association, the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) and Engineers Ireland.


An enhanced version of the scheme was introduced last year, and figures provided on Thursday show that there have been 436 applications until May 1st under the new scheme. Some 16 of those applications have been rejected as they did not meet the damage threshold while 195 have been either offered or awarded grant money.

The scheme covers eligible costs up to a maximum of €420,000. Included within this overall cap, the scheme also provides grants for temporary accommodation of €15,000, storage of €5,000 and essential immediate repairs of €5,000.

Assistant secretary in the Department of Housing Áine Stapleton said that since the commencement of the scheme last July there are more than 2,000 applications at various stages of the process. Local authorities administer the scheme, along with the Housing Agency.

Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó’Broin asked representatives at the meeting for the total number of households who have received the full grant determination, whether from the older scheme or the revised scheme.

The chief executive of Mayo County Council, Kevin Kelly, said there have been only 18 households fully completed in Mayo and 43 in Donegal, giving a total of 61 defective homes remediated to date.

“Those figures have started to move up quite significantly and we would expect there would be at least 50 completed in Mayo before the end of this year and a corresponding increase in the Donegal numbers as well,” Mr Kelly said.

Mr Ó'Broin said: “We are years and years into this scheme, and you’re telling me that only 60-odd homes have received their full grant and only 195 of the new applications have had an offer. That says to me that this scheme is not working at all.”

Meanwhile, the committee also heard that a national protocol underpinning the multibillion-euro remediation scheme will not be fully reviewed until next year as the NSAI is waiting on a number of pieces of research. It comes amid concerns about the existence of other deleterious materials in the properties.

A number of homeowners in Donegal were previously alerted to the presence of pyrrhotite in their blocks, on top of the existence of mica.

Pyrrhotite, a naturally occurring iron sulphide that can react with oxygen and water and lead to cracking and swelling in concrete, has been implicated internationally in the deterioration of houses in Connecticut and Quebec.

Sinn Féin TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn said that homes in Donegal are being “diagnosed with the wrong cancer”.

The IS 465 protocol is used by engineers and geologists to assess the damage in properties where the concrete blocks are suspected to contain mica or pyrite. Campaigners say they fear there may eventually be homes that have the outer leaf remediated under the Government scheme but still have the inner blockwork or foundations intact, which could contain pyrrhotite.

CEO of the NSAI Geraldine Larkin said the organisation will move forward “as soon as the research becomes available”.

“We have to make sure that the scientific evidence supports the decisions that are to be made. It is a difficult position for us because we would like to provide a scientific answer much quicker, but we are not there yet,” she said.

Social Democrats TD Cian O’Callaghan was also told that a senior counsel has not yet been appointed to pursue accountability from suppliers of defective blocks, despite a Government commitment made last year.

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times