Donegal: Church leaders call for redress for mica families

Image source, Aoife NicSheáin
Image caption, Thousands took to the streets of Buncrana, County Donegal, in protest earlier this year

Church leaders have called on the Irish government to provide full redress to the thousands of people whose homes have crumbled because of bricks made of mica and pyrite.

Catholic and Church of Ireland bishops and Presbyterian clergyman called for immediate action "to end the anguish and uncertainty" for all involved.

Homeowners were left to pay the remaining 10%.

They must also pay outstanding mortgage costs on the home.

In counties Donegal and Mayo alone, up to 5,700 houses are falling apart.

Church leaders want a 40-year state-backed scheme to guarantee 100% redress for future problems, to be available to all those who have been affected.

"There may come a time for assigning responsibility for what has happened," the church leaders said.

"One thing is certain, though: the homeowners are not to blame."

The statement added: "As church leaders, we are gravely concerned at the families' plight. 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.

"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."

Image source, Mica Action
Image caption, Houses have been crumbling due to blocks containing high levels of the minerals mica and pyrite

In 2016, an expert panel was set up to investigate problems with homes affected by mica and another mineral, pyrite.

Mica absorbs water which can cause walls to crack.

That followed years of campaigning by an action group and led, in 2019, to the Irish government approving a €20m (£17.2m) repair scheme.

But in the years since, many homeowners now see the scheme as not fit for purpose, given it still requires homeowners for 10% of the repairs.

Church leaders said there appeared to be a "disparity" in how victims were being treated.

"Homeowners in Leinster were awarded 100% redress for the pyrite problems there," they said.

"The citizens of Donegal, Mayo, Sligo, Tipperary, Clare and Limerick deserve no less. This is a matter of fairness, justice and compassion."

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