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12 Aug 2022

Mica Action Group claims Government using Ukraine as an excuse not to help homeowners

Group has also delivered an ultimate to Donegal's county councillors

Failure to reimburse Donegal mica homeowners

Failure to reimburse Donegal mica homeowners

The Donegal Mica Action Group have claimed that the Government is using the Ukrainian crisis and increases in the cost of living as an excuse not to meet the demands of homeowners who were watching their houses crumble due to defective concrete blocks.

Spokesperson Michael Doherty told their weekly Facebook address that they believed the Government was worried that the cost of living increases would annoy TDs 'down the country' so they decided to pair back on a proper compensation solution which had been largely agreed upon up to this.

He also revealed Donegal's 37 county councillors have been sent an ultimatum - show your support for the affected families and put the people before the party.

Mr Doherty said they had given them until 5pm next Tuesday to say which side they were on and they would then publish a poster showing who was with them.

"And we'll make sure that is not forgotten next time you are facing the electorate - that's the message to the councillors. The 37 of you have had little or nothing to do so far, now is your time to shine, or forget about it, simple as that," he said.

Blocks still being manufactured

His weekly update also claimed a lot of stuff was exposed at last Thursday's meeting between the group and the department including the fact there were still quarries manufacturing defective blocks.

"You would have thought that would have been mad all over the place at the minute in a €2.7 billion scheme yet whatever forces are out there a lot of the media are being curtailed big time. We are not on a level playing field in any shape or form and it's time to realise that and see what we can do to counteract that."

He added that to his knowledge the committee had still not agreed on what the recommendations were going to the minister.

"That was over a week ago and it still hasn't been sorted out. All the opposition were in agreement, even the Green Party but Fianna Fáil-Fine Gael were not and for that reason they held back.

"I have not seen what that letter of recommendation looks like despite all the work that went into Thursday so that's what we're up against and that's the reality out there. This is a real uphill battle and will continue to be.

Mr Doherty said this week also saw the Bill published in the Dáil.

80 amendments

"They made the Bill available last Sunday night and we spent three days and nights on it. We pulled out 80 amendments and got it through the opposition and got them schooled up on what we wanted to be presented on our behalf before last Thursday morning at 11am - that's the respect we are shown by the Government."

He claimed this was all about ramming it through and no one should be under any illusion about that. He pointed out that the opposition TDs such as Thomas Pringle, Padraig Mac Lochlann and Pearse Doherty as well as others from other counties spoke very well on their behalf
"I'm including sitting Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary TD for Mayo an in power TD in that too.

"He was fit to speak up and represent his people. I don't think we saw that in Donegal and that's just being blunt about it. I think next time round they have sealed their fate as far as elections around here go.

Mr Doherty accused the Government of "very deliberate manipulation of a Bill against what the homeowners were asking for".

He added that despite a lot of progress on a lot of things were not in the Bill as if they were never talked about.

"But they were and were very close to getting over the line and they were all pulled. Why were they all pulled? They were pulled because of Ukraine. They were pulled because they felt people would start to feel the sting of the living costs and there would be less favour down the country among the TDs for mica and pyrite in the affected counties that has defective concrete blocks and they could get away with not giving us what they had largely agreed to give us over the course of the six months.

"That's how rotten that apples are we're dealing with here. This was a case 'yes we could have given it to you but we didn't give it to you because in the end, we thought we could get away without giving it to you.

Opposition

In relation to what they could now do, Mr Doherty said thankfully they still had a strong opposition fighting their corner.

"We have got the business committee on Tuesday who will be asked to extend the insult of a two-hour window that we have been given to discuss 80 amendments on a €2.7 billion scheme that will be at least twice that now that there is 13 counties. That figure [€2.7bn]is only based on four counties."

He said Wednesday was going to be extremely important as the amendments going to be voted on.

"We saw the TDs show their hand. We have one TD out of Mayo and Mayo is the closest thing we have to a working ally. We also have Clare stepping up great at the moment and Sligo is now getting on board as well.

"You also had the strong statement from the five affected counties including Limerick as well which was a strong position with five counties shouting the same thing.

"All 37 Donegal county councillors will have received an e-mail which contains a link to the joint statement. It has a very clear question in the e-mail itself - do they stand by their people or so they stand by their party?

"What do we mean by standing by their people? Are you in agreement with us that these amendments need to be granted in order for the scheme to work? They are going have to sit tonight (Sunday) and think about that."

Councillors ' time to shine'

He added they would be taking their indications of support or otherwise by this coming Tuesday at 5pm. The indications of their support would be published on a special poster of all councillors using a green tick beside the councillor's face for yes and a red x for those that didn't.

"And we'll make sure that is not forgotten next time you are facing the electorate - that's the message to the councillors. The 37 of you have had little or nothing to do so far, now is your time to shine, or forget about it, simple as that."

Mr Doherty appealed for as many people as possible to make their way to Dublin on Wednesday to make sure the TDs who are going in to vote on the amendments know the depth of their feelings in this matter.

He said it was vital TDs realised the mica crisis was a bit like Covid - there was nothing to suggest that just because they had not to deal with it now didn't mean it wasn't possibly coming down the road.

"Be in Dublin on Wednesday. If you think you are losing a day's pay big deal. Think about the tens of thousands of euros you are going to be losing. It's there to grab, be under no illusion. The minister can do this at the stroke of a pen if he wants but he doesn't feel he has to. Show him differently. Be down there and be counted," he said.

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