homeowners in Ireland Living in defective block houses “that fall apart like Weetabix” he says the government’s compensation scheme will still leave them with ruined bills of up to €80,000 (£60,000).
The government earlier this week unveiled a long-awaited remedy plan for an estimated 6,000 people living in homes that have to be demolished and rebuilt. The government says the scheme will cost 2.2 billion euros and means homeowners will have no upfront costs.
At first, the government seemed to have acceded to many of the demands of activists representing people whose homes were built with blocks containing a lot of the mineral mica, causing the blocks to crack and collapse.
But after examining the details – notably the inclusion of a curtailing element in the bailout funds – activists condemned the government’s scheme as a cynical attempt to grab positive headlines.
Government funds for reconstruction have been reduced from €145 per square foot for the first 1,000 square feet (93 square metres) to €110 per square foot for the next 1,000 and €100 per square foot. Activists said this leaves significant shortcomings for those whose homes need demolishing and rebuilding.
Angeline Rudy, deputy principal of a school at Karndona in Donegal, said: He lives in a house that needs to be demolished. “If I go to the bank looking for it they will laugh at me because my collateral is a house full of crumbling holes.
“I am completely disgusted,” she said. I can’t believe that after all these years trying to get compensation, the government decided to treat us like this. This is appalling behaviour.
She said she feels betrayed by her local deputy, Agriculture Secretary Charlie McConnalog. “I don’t know how he can drive through town,” she said. “He knows the pain people are in but doesn’t seem to have any responsibility at the government level.”
Across the town and outback where Ruddy lives, homes are riddled with cracks and crumbling due to faulty building blocks containing mica.
The scheme announced two days earlier was the culmination of a 10-year campaign by homeowners who discovered cracks in their newly built homes in the years following the move.
Many initially blamed the builders, but gradually it turned out that the bricks contained a lot of mica.
The scheme is described as the solution, with compensation of up to 420,000 euros for the house.
“The only way to fix this is for the government to bring in the housing authority to fix our homes,” said Paddy Diver, a spokesperson for Mica Action Group.
He accused the government of acting in “bad faith” and said that the element of sliding scale emanated from it and was not part of the consultation process.
Activists are now talking of a new protest to “close Dublin’s streets before Christmas”, with possible support from truck drivers and farmers.
Rep. Sinn Féin Pearse Doherty, who is from Donegal, called on the government to scrap the gradient scheme and “go back to the drawing board”. He said the scheme was “useless for families.”
Rudy said the impact of the mica scandal on the mental health of both parents and children at her school was clear.
“One of the kids came to me yesterday to say ‘Dad is in a dark place.'” She said, “I don’t know where we are going from here.