THE PATIENCE of tenants living in Council-owned houses affected by Mica has ‘run out.’
The issue raised its head at this week’s meeting of the Letterkenny-Milford Municipal District with members to meet with Council officials next week in a bid to address the problem.
An emergency motion was tabled by Sinn Féin Councillor Gerry McMonagle, which asked that standing orders be suspended to ‘allow members to raise concerns of tenants of the Council in the Letterkenny-Milford Municipal District in relation to the increasing disrepair of a significant amount of houses that seem to be displaying symptoms of homes affected with Mica.’
Cllr McMonagle called on Donegal County Council, as a matter of urgency, put in place a process of identifying the number of houses affected, test and assess each house and put in place a timeframe process for repair.
The motion, seconded by Fianna Fáil Councillor Ciaran Brogan, was unanimously accepted by members.
The meeting heard that over 180 applications have now been made under the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme with one-third of all applications being received in January 2021.
To date, 76 applications have been approved under the scheme.
“Tenants’ frustration has run out,” Cllr McMonagle said. “Their patience has run out. These issues have been running for five or six years and in some instances longer.
“A significant number of the houses are in estates in Letterkenny. The lockdown period culminated in tenants just become exasperated and fed up of it.
“People being confined to their houses has brought this home.”
Cllr McMonagle said people have had to be moved out of houses which were badly affected.
“This has left some houses empty and they’re now boarded up,” he said.
“This is all breaking down the resolve of the people and is affecting the mental health of residents. We need to move very quickly on this. If we need to borrow money to ensure that people live in proper housing then we should do it. We shouldn’t be waiting for handouts.
“Surely we could have done some form of repair to try and make life better for our tenants until such times as we get the money we need to carry out full repairs.
“This isn’t being dramatic – you just have to look at the houses to see it. We need to offer these people hope and we need to start the process of repair very soon. They are our assets and we are allowing them to deteriorate.”
Councillor Jimmy Kavanagh said that the now-empty houses were attracting anti-social behaviour and urged immediate action.
Councillor Ciaran Brogan implored the members to ‘show a level of confidence in how we’ll address the challenges.
“I have had a lot of contact in the last week with a lot of residents and spoken to them at length,” Cllr Brogan. “You can feel the anxiety and stress. It’s a very challenging time ad I think we should act as a matter of urgency, get a team and an action plan in place to give us a roadmap going forward.”
Councillor Michael McBride said: “This time two years ago, we are getting ready to hit the footpaths to canvas. It was very evident when we went into some estates house much Mica was there.
“I guarantee you the floodgates will open on this. People have tried to patch up houses, fill cracks, but they know there was a problem below the surface.
“This could be a problem similar to that of unfinished houses – we are still having workshops about it.”
Councillor Kevin Bradley said that some houses affected were ‘in an awful state’. He said: “I don’t know how people are living in them. These residents need to be spoken to. There is no good in kicking the can down the road for two years. People are paying us rent and living in poor conditions.”
The matter was described as ‘a matter of urgency’ by Councillor Donal Kelly, who said: “Do we have to wart until something serious happens? It’s a disgrace the way some of these people have to live like this.”
Patricia McIntyre, Letterkenny Area Manager on Housing, said that letters and photos were being followed up.
A meeting for a full discussion on the issue will take place on Tuesday next, February 16, with members of the local authority’s technical team to attend.Tags: