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26 May 2022

'I could not take any more'

'Like a knife in the back' - mica redress campaigner

Paddy Diver addressing Dublin Redress Rally
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Straight-talking 100% Redress campaigner, Paddy Diver, says he is stepping back from the group because his good name is being dragged through the mud on social media and he cannot take it any more.

In an exclusive interview with Inish Live , Inishowen's redress totem added he was both heartbroken and disgusted his involvement in the campaign had had to end in this way.

Paddy and the 100% Redress campaign burst spontaneously onto the Inishowen stage last May.

That was the day more than 200 local people with mica-affected homes and their supporters staged a protest outside a construction site in Carndonagh where the firm GDC Property Developers was building houses.

Just over a month later (June 15), thousands of people from Donegal travelled to Dublin. They massed on Dáil Éireann, sitting in Dublin's Convention Centre, in the pursuit of mica redress.

However, the online abuse Paddy has received in the seemingly interminable interregnum between the closing of the '90/10' scheme, which opened in January 2020, and the opening of the 'enhanced' scheme, announced in November 30, has resulted in him leaving the 100% redress campaign “for the sake of my family” he said.

Paddy said the blame for most of the online abuse he had received lay with Donegal county councillor Frank McBrearty and his supporters.

“I would have no bother keeping going but it has turned into a vendetta against me and there are supporters of Cllr McBrearty who think, by running me down, they are standing up for him, but it is not me against Cllr McBrearty.” he said.

“Listen, I don't want people to think, 'There's Paddy Diver again saying poor me'. This is not poor me. I never sought the limelight. This situation happened by default when I blocked a lorry in Carndonagh last May.

“At the minute, I am disgusted at the way this has ended up. I am disgusted at the way my good name has been dragged through the mud and false allegations have been made against me.

“I am actually shocked a Donegal County Council representative has been allowed to do this. I have made a complaint to the Council but I have been told it will take at least four months for the complaint to be investigated.

“In my complaint, I am asking the councillor to either shut up or provide evidence to back up his accusations.

“Donegal County Council has a 'general code of conduct and behaviour' for councillors. I believe Cllr McBrearty is breaking that code of conduct because he is libelling me on Facebook, saying I have taken a 'secret deal' from the Government.”

According to Paddy, his wife was told, by Cllr McBrearty, it was not too late for Paddy to join the councillor's side.

“As far as I am concerned, there are no sides. We are all after the same thing,” said Paddy.

“Some campaigners are going the legal route. I never had any problem with anybody going the legal route.

“I always thought the two groups could run side by side with no problems. However, I have also been targetted by another redress group, which is taking the legal route.

“They seem to think that if we scrap the scheme now and everyone goes the legal route, they will have more of a chance. I just think there are houses out there, and I have said this all along, that do not have the time to go the legal route.

“I am not opposed to Cllr McBrearty going the legal group or any other group going the legal route but I do hate this big vendetta against campaigners and 100% Redress. We are just ordinary people who are out there campaigning.

“It has got to the stage there were posts on social media about my brother. He was accused of taking a full-blown rebuild of his house via another block manufacturer. That never happened. The man built a house down in Malin and he never replaced a block in his life and that is a fact.”

According to Paddy, 100% Redress was busy organising protests and awareness raising events, including the 'Children's Mica March' in Dublin in October and the weekly Twitter storm.

He said: “Every day we were saying, 'Right, what will we do next? What's the plan?' But then, it came to the stage where all of the messages coming into the group were along the lines of 'Look what is being said here. Look what is being said there'.

“And I am scratching my head because I don't understand why these things are being said and I know my mother-in-law is seeing it and my sister is phoning me and saying. 'Look what is being said here'.

“I just thought, 'What the hell is going on here? How come our own people are turning against us? Why don't they use their energy to do something constructive, to do something right?

“These groups don't even help with our weekly Twitter storms. There are plenty of things out there they could use their energy for but instead they are intent in draining the energy out of the 100% Redress campaign.

“I think I deserve an apology from both Donegal County Council and Cllr Frank McBrearty because the general code of conduct and behaviour says, 'Courtesy and respect should also be observed when using social media channels, messaging applications and written communications'.

“I think, Donegal County Council needs to come out and stop this behaviour.”

Paddy said he just could not take any more of the bullying behaviour.

“The facts regarding my home are these: I registered on the 90/10 scheme and, as the time went on, I got a planner.

“We changed our design three times to make it exciting for the children and my wife, instead of doing the exact same thing again.

“It then went to our architect and he changed a few things and there was the usual back and forth. Never did I ever tell him to hurry up because I needed to get it in before a certain date.

“This is an absolutely pathetic accusation. Everybody was taken by surprise when Donegal County Council put a cut off date on applications, so to speak.

“When the architect said to me my plans were ready to go and he was submitting them, I just thought that was well and good. Like so many other people, I am actually stuck here now.

“I don't know where I am. I am on the old scheme with the €247,000 cap. That is no good to me. Why would I want to be on the old scheme?

“I want to be on the new scheme where there is a cap of €420,000.

“As far as I am concerned, my family and I are stressed to the hilt. We don't know now whether we are going to get all of the hard work we did in the old scheme, under the new scheme or are we going to have to start the whole thing again?

“Nobody knows. Yet, Cllr McBrearty is saying I know. I'll say it again, 'Nobody knows.'”

Paddy also stressed his second home is ineligible for either scheme.

“Cllr McBrearty is saying on social media the issue of second homes is why I left the 100% Redress campaign. Wrong. I got out because of him and the terrible things he was saying on social media. I could not take it any more.

“As far as I am concerned, the scheme is in good hands with Michael Doherty and the Mica Action Group (MAG).

“The removal of the sliding scale by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI) was fine but other improvements need to be made.

“MAG is still pushing those second homes trying to get them over the line and they have not stopped. They are still letting the Government know there is a housing crisis here.

“Like everybody else, I hope that I get my house sorted but I have no idea where I stand with my home or what scheme I am on.

“But I should not have to go to the media to defend myself against false allegations. It is heartbreaking to have to do this.”

Paddy said he had phoned a member of another campaign group and asked why they were letting someone with a fake profile, in their group, drag him down and post false rumours about him.

He added: “This group has chosen to go the legal route. He told me they were looking for me to back the legal option. But, I said I was not going to back a legal scheme that I know nothing about because, if something went wrong down the line and the sponsors pulled out and the bill was left to the homeowner, I could not back that.

“I was told he would tell me who was behind the fake profile if I reconsidered.

“I said, 'So, you are threatening me that you are going to keep allowing fake profiles on your page to libel me if I don't back your legal route?' I said I would walk away before I would give in to blackmail and threats.

“I was told I would not walk away because my ego was so big. But, I have no ego. I am only trying to do the best for my family. I was going to be destroyed if I did not back a certain campaign.

“So, that put the tin hat on it. I don't need this any more.”

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