Cabinet row brews over mica homes compensation scheme

Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue wants to see homeowners 'achieve a 100% redress scheme'
Cabinet row brews over mica homes compensation scheme

Mica-affected homeowners from Mayo and Donegal protest outside the Department of the Taoiseach in June. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

A Cabinet row is brewing over a scheme for mica homeowners, with Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue insisting that people should be fully compensated.

The Department of Housing believes that homeowners should have to pay 10% of costs with a recent position paper deeming this contribution "appropriate".

However, families whose homes now need significant structural repairs and remediation say the amount of compensation should be the same as a scheme in the Leinster area for homes affected by pyrite which makes provision for 100% redress.

Mr McConalogue has strongly backed this call and told the Irish Examiner: "I remain committed to seeing the homeowners affected by mica achieve a 100% redress scheme that is fit for purpose and will support families to rebuild their homes and their dreams.

"Families affected are in this situation through no fault of their own," said Mr McConalogue.

It is estimated that 5,000 private homes in Donegal and more across Mayo, Clare, and Sligo are affected by mica, a destructive mineral found in aggregate used for concrete blocks.


Some of these homes will have to be completely demolished, but currently there is only a provision to cover up to 90% of costs, not including ancillary costs such as relocation and some reconstruction fees.

In a position paper presented by the department to the mica/pyrite working group last month, seen by the Irish Examiner, it was stated that “a contribution of 10% from affected homeowners was deemed appropriate”.

“The department is satisfied that the current scheme will work on a 90/10 basis for the vast majority of homeowners,” stated the paper.

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien had set up a pyrite/mica working group in June after meeting some of the thousands of homeowners who protested in Dublin calling for adequate Government support.

However, four homeowner representatives from Mayo and Donegal have since resigned from the group, citing a "one-sided dogmatic approach" from the department and a failure to engage in a "genuine manner" to address the issue.

Mr McConalogue has now encouraged all sides to work together to come to a resolution for homeowners.

"It's critical to note that no decision over any scheme has been yet made," he said. "I strongly encourage everyone to remain engaged with the working group and see the process through.

"As a minister from Inishowen and Donegal, I continue to be a voice and advocate in Government for the mica homeowners." 

'Ongoing engagement'

A Department of Housing spokesperson said engagement with the working group is ongoing and a report will be prepared by the end of September.

"This will allow for further research on core aspects of the scheme, such as the 90/10 requirement and cap on allowable costs."

The spokesperson said work with the Housing Agency and officials is continuing this month; however, the next full working group meeting will not take place until early September.

"We will be actively engaging with Mayo homeowner representatives to identify replacements for the working group who will attend the meetings on behalf of all homeowners affected within that local authority area," said the spokesperson.

"All areas of the scheme are under discussion and no final decisions have been made. The voice of Mayo homeowners is central to that process."

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