Mica crisis: AG looking at ways to penalise quarries over sale of defective blocks

Mica crisis: AG looking at ways to penalise quarries over sale of defective blocks

The Mica and Pyrite issue has led to thousands of families living in homes made with defective blocks.

The Attorney General is working on mechanisms to have liable quarries penalised over the sale of defective blocks, the Dáil has heard.

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien, speaking during Leader's Questions, said he is working "extensively" with Paul Gallagher SC to ensure those who are liable can be held accountable. "I believe those that are responsible should contribute towards remediation and can contribute towards it," Mr O'Brien said.

"Actually I've engaged the attorney general intensively on the matter and he is working on mechanisms to ensure that wrongdoing and liability on the part of quarries and other parties are fully penalised.

"If you go back to 2012, in that scheme, there was provision in the original act for payments to be made into the scheme. I do intend along with government colleagues to engage with stakeholders on this, to pursue those who and identify those who have been found to have been responsible for this as well."

Mr O'Brien repeated the government has a moral responsibility to intervene in the Mica and Pyrite issue, which has led to thousands of families living in homes made with defective blocks. In some cases they have already been demolished through no fault of the homeowner.

"Legally there are others who are responsible. We have to look at the statute of limitations and there's a bit of work that we're doing on that too. That may start from the day that one receives independent verification of a defect, that the statute would only kick in from that date, as opposed to when someone believes, who would not be an expert, that there may be a problem.

"So there are things we can do. We've also engaged a senior engineer to issue a report on the scheme. Included in that is identifying and pursuing wrongdoing in this area."

Mr O'Brien said he intends "to do that as best I can legally on behalf of the State".

Independent Limerick TD Richard O'Donoghue told Mr O'Brien that affected homeowners "cannot be liable for excessive insurance policies on their houses".

"If you have an insurance claim on your house today, your house has to be returned to the regulation of today, not the regulation of 20 years ago," he said.

Mr O'Brien said there are "issues around insurance, certainly, there's issues around certification, and when work is done, it should be certified, and should certify that their work is done to a standard that one can claim and get insurance again".

"We made progress in that space. I intend to bring that forward as one of my recommendations. One of my proposals would be allowing recourse to the scheme a second time should that be required.

"Once the revised scheme is published there will be more around standards and how we can help people as best we can. Those who are responsible in my view should be held accountable."

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