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12 Aug 2022

Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh confirms he is resigning the party whip

Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh confirms he is resigning the party whip

Photo: Brian McDaid

Donegal Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh has confirmed this evening that he is resigning the party whip.

His decision comes after he voted against the Government in the Dáil today during the second stage vote on legislation to provide redress to homeowners affected by defective mica blocks.

The legislation was passed by 71 votes to 67.

In a tweet this evening, the Carrigart man said was resigning the whip and did so "with a heavy heart" but he felt it was the right decision.

He also outlined some of the reasons for his actions.

The Government will lose its majority in the Dáil as a result of Deputy McHugh's decision.

However, Government sources are confident this evening that it still has the support of several independent TDs.

It is also expected that Deputy McHugh will vote with the government on other issues.

Donegal has many homeowners who have been affected by the defective building blocks issue which the government’s redress scheme seeks to address.

Campaigners have voiced their dissatisfaction with the mica redress bill, labelling it as “unworkable”. Opposition parties voiced their anger in the Dail on Tuesday evening that just two hours had been set aside on Wednesday to vote on amendments to the bill.

In the wake of Mr McHugh’s dissenting vote, People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy asked Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien in the Dail whether the government was going to draw conclusions from “losing their majority” over the Mica bill.

Mr O’Brien defended the scheme as it stands, and said that it was important for the scheme to be passed before the summer recess.

Defective building blocks containing excessive deposits of the minerals mica and pyrite have seen thousands of properties begin to crack and crumble across the country.

Politicians were warned during a marathon seven-hour Oireachtas committee last week that the problem of defective building blocks could emerge in every county across the country, with one expert describing it as a “ticking timebomb”.

They were also warned that the Government’s Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme, estimated to cost €2.7 billion and which offers 100% grants of up to 420,000 euro per dwelling, does not go far enough for those affected.

On Tuesday, five defective block action groups announced their intention to register as a political party, and to run candidates in any county affected by the mica or pyrite issue in local and general elections.

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