Government urged to scrap sliding-scale plan for mica redress scheme

Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty called on ministers to ‘go back to the drawing board’.

Cate McCurry
Wednesday 01 December 2021 14:38
Taoiseach Micheal Martin said the Government’s only objective was to ensure residents could get their homes rebuilt (Brian Lawless/PA)
Taoiseach Micheal Martin said the Government’s only objective was to ensure residents could get their homes rebuilt (Brian Lawless/PA)

The average homeowner in Donegal will be forced to find 65,000 euros to make up for shortfalls in the Government’s mica redress scheme, it has been claimed.

Campaigner and homeowner Michael Doherty criticised the sliding-scale method applied to the revised mica redress scheme.

Homeowners will be able to receive 145 euros for the first 1,000sq ft of a property.

Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien was accused of being ‘disingenuous’ (Niall Carson/PA)

It will reduce to 110 euros for the second 1,000sq ft, and the remainder will be set at a rate of 100 euros per square foot.

Mr Doherty said the Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien did not raise the sliding scale when they spoke by phone hours before the scheme was publicly announced.

Mr Doherty said the minister’s decision not to mention it was “very deliberate” and “very disingenuous”.

“The average family in Donegal, based on 158 applications through the (Donegal) council offices meant that they were going to be 65,000 on average,” Mr Doherty added.

“That is unattainable for the families.

Eddie McNamee at his mica-affected home in Gleneely, Co Donegal (Niall Carson/PA)

“Even in the smaller rooms, if we go down to a 1,700 square-foot house, we’re still 30,000 euros short.

“This is life-changing sums of money for people in Donegal.”

Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty called on the Government to scrap the sliding-scale plan and “go back to the drawing board”.

“Donegal County Council has told your government that the tender price that they have received from contractors to demolish and rebuild the first 43 houses is an average 150 euros per square foot,” Mr Doherty said.

“The Government’s proposals go nowhere near that. This isn’t 100% redress. It’s nowhere near it.

“So you need to go back to the drawing board.”

He welcomed other measures in the redress scheme including costs for renting and storage.

“The point here is that’s no use to families,” he added.

Mr Doherty said families would have to pay anything from 45,000 euros to 65,000 euros.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said the Government had made a “very comprehensive response” to the mica issue.

“The scheme that was announced yesterday by the minister is expansive, an extra 800 million, 2.2 billion of a scheme to deal comprehensively with the issues that were raised by residents,” Mr Martin told the Dail.

“Our only objective is to ensure that residents can get their homes rebuilt.”

What I want to say to the residents and homeowners is, we're working on this. I want no more delays. I want no more endless campaigning for the sake of the campaigning and exploiting it for political or electoral interest

Taoiseach Micheal Martin

Mr Martin said the rates for square footage were indicative and would be updated next April.

“The minister will be working with Engineers Ireland in terms of the indicative costs going forward,” he added.

“This will take quite a number of years to get houses remediated and to get houses rebuilt.”

Mr Doherty claimed that the Cabinet had “butchered” figures published by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI).

“The reality is, SCSI tells you that the cost of rebuilding a house in the north-west is a way higher than what is under this scheme,” the Donegal TD added.

“You have decided to take the figure and then butcher them through this economies of scale that will remain in the future.”

Micheal Martin said the Government had made a ‘very comprehensive response’ to the mica issue (Dominic McGrath/PA)

Mr Martin went on to accuse Sinn Fein of “feigning outrage” around the campaign.

“I can see through you, deputy,” he added.

“What I want to say to the residents and homeowners is, we’re working on this.

“I want no more delays. I want no more endless campaigning for the sake of the campaigning and exploiting it for political or electoral interest.

“My only interest now is the homeowners.”

Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh said: “Yesterday’s announcement certainly didn’t meet people’s expectations, they didn’t meet my expectations.

“But the conversation I’ve had with my colleagues late last night, and I was also in touch with Darragh O’Brien this morning, they have an awareness too that there is a massive issue around this sliding scale.”

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