Children living in homes hit by mica crisis stage protest outside Dáil

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Children Living In Homes Hit By Mica Crisis Stage Protest Outside Dáil Children Living In Homes Hit By Mica Crisis Stage Protest Outside Dáil
Children from across Donegal protest to highlight the ongoing mica crisis, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By James Ward and Cate McCurry, PA

More than 50 children living in homes affected by mica who are “scared for their lives” have staged a protest outside the Dáil.

Dozens of children, some of whom left their homes at 5am for the journey to Dublin, stood at the gates of Leinster House holding placards that read “Please don’t leave me homeless” and “I did nothing wrong.”

They delivered letters to Education Minister Norma Foley and Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman seeking help from the Government for their homes, which are crumbling due to the defective building blocks.

Mica activist Paddy Diver joins children from across Donegal at the gates of the Dail on Kildare Street, Dublin, as they protest to highlight the ongoing mica crisis (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mica campaigner Paddy Diver told the PA news agency: “They’re suffering. Nobody is asking them how they are.

“They’re the future, and they’re scared for their lives, living in homes with mica.

“There’s a young fella in there, Tyler, and he wants to get to sleep before the cracks start coming at night-time, or he won’t get to sleep.

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“The last time it happened he didn’t get to sleep until three or four o’clock in the morning.

“My daughter, she won’t stay in her own room. There’s another young boy called Ben, he was sitting on the stairs listening to his mother and father arguing, wondering where are they going to live.”

An estimated 5,000 homes in Co Donegal are affected by defective bricks, with thousands more understood to be in counties Sligo, Clare and Limerick, with campaigners calling for 100 per cent redress from the Government.

Children from across Donegal march to the gates of the Dáil (Brian Lawless/PA)

On Wednesday, the children living in those homes outlined the fear they face to the Government.

“It’s worrying, you feel like the house is just going to fall down on top of you,” 12-year-old Grainne Hone said.

“My house, we should be able to live there for another couple of years, but we will eventually have to move into a mobile home.

“It’s scary, there have been sleepless nights. But we basically can’t do anything and that’s why we’re fighting for 100% redress.”

Tiernan Cantwell, 13, said: “It’s scary to know that I’m living in a house that can start crumbling at any time, and start falling apart.

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Tiernan Cantwell, 13, from Carndonagh, joins children from across Donegal at the gates of the Dail (Brian Lawless/PA)

“Ours isn’t that bad at the moment, but it’s still scary. Other houses around us are going to fall, it’s not going to end well.

“It’s not as bad as other people’s, so I’m thankful for that. But it’s still crumbling.”

Agriculture Minister and Donegal TD Charlie McConalogue said a new set of proposals will be ready in “two to three weeks”.

He said: “My key focus as a Cabinet minister and a minister from the part of the country that is by far the most affected by this, is to get a scheme that will stand up to scrutiny, that will fully deliver, and that will be there for families whether their home is getting fixed this year, next year, or in three or four years’ time.

“Considering the number of homes involved, it will take a significant period of time to fully fix them all.

Children from across Donegal at the gates of the Dáil as Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue, right, looks on (Brian Lawless/PA)

“Getting this scheme right now, at the outset, is crucial in relation to having that platform to fix all the homes.”

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald met with children at the gates of Leinster House before raising the issue with the Taoiseach in Leaders’ Questions.

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“These children should not have had to travel all the way to Dublin,” Mrs McDonald told the Dáil.

“Like all others, these children should enjoy a carefree childhood and they should not have to worry about their home crumbling around them.

“They should not have to witness the intense and often unbearable pressure that their parents and wider families live with every day.”

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald speaks with children from across Donegal at the gates of the Dail (Brian Lawless/PA)

She called on Micheál Martin to guarantee 100 per cent redress for those affected.

Mr Martin said the Government wants to get the crisis “comprehensively resolved” for the homeowners.

“Enormous provision will have to be made to deal with the mica situation to refurbish housing, to give guarantees and to underpin people’s sense of security in their homes for the long term,” he added.

“The scheme will be far more significant than the last scheme, which was significant in itself.”

Mr Martin said the situation has “far-reaching implications” nationally.

“Other counties are manifesting mica problems also and Government has to take all those implications on board,” he added.

“The action we take on mica will have follow-on and consequential implications for other situations in housing so we are conscious of that.”

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