‘Momentous day’ as Minister for Housing to meet Mica homeowners

ireland
‘Momentous Day’ As Minister For Housing To Meet Mica Homeowners ‘Momentous Day’ As Minister For Housing To Meet Mica Homeowners
The homeowners are seeking 100 per cent redress for damage to their homes caused by the presence of mica in faulty building blocks. Photo: PA Images.
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Vivienne Clarke

The Minister for Housing will meet Mica homeowners this evening for a crucial meeting on a redress scheme.

The homeowners are seeking 100 per cent redress for damage to their homes caused by the presence of the mineral mica in faulty building blocks.

The Mica Working Group has described it as “momentous day” for those affected by the scandal.

“We are very apprehensive, we are hoping for the very best because we have been working on this campaign for ten years,” said member Anne Owens.

Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien will receive the final report on the redress scheme tomorrow, before bringing recommendations to Cabinet early next month.

‘Nothing off the table’

Speaking this morning, the Minister said “nothing is off the table” when it comes to the scheme.

Mr O’Brien told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that he was “absolutely committed” to improving redress. “I know how important this is. I want to help. This is a serious process,” he said.

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The Minister said that his focus was on bringing forward an enhanced scheme to help people “whose homes are crumbling”. Any scheme would “more than likely” require legislation, he added.

Mr O’Brien also said that the scheme was likely to require expansion and require the Housing Agency to handle it more efficiently, along with local authorities.

It was a fraught situation and emotions could “run high.” The Exchequer was looking at a monetary cost of €1.5 billion. “That can’t be ignored,” he added.

Banks

The Minister will meet with the working group on the issue today and expects to bring a report to Cabinet as early as next week. He said he would brief the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan on Thursday.

The expert group would report to representatives today, but if extra time was required that would be available as it was important to “get it right”.

When asked if banks should be involved in the compensation scheme, Mr O’Brien said he expected various stakeholders to be involved and he had asked the Attorney General to examine what legal recourse the State had. But he believed that those directly responsible — the building sector, quarries and others — would have to make contributions.

There was no need for anyone but the Government to pay into the compensation fund at this stage, but he acknowledged that others “may contribute” once legal recourse had been taken with those responsible.

Later on the same programme, Brian Hayes of the Banking & Payments Federation said that the responsibility for the Mica problem did not lie with banks. Banks had provided what assistance they could such as payment breaks and credit lines. “The question is who is responsible for this? Where does culpability lie?” he said.

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