Once the protests were over on Saturday, families went home and waited.
They waited for a reaction, for news coverage, for action.
Oliver and Veronica Lafferty are always waiting. Whenever a bad wind is forecast, they wait in fear of the whole gable of their home collapsing onto the street.
Kieran and Annette Canny are waiting for news on their redress application. To see if they are successful in getting support to rebuild their own home. They’ll have to pay for the demolition out of their own pocket. And they’ll be expected to pay to dispose of the crumbling blocks that caused their nightmare.
These two Carndonagh families have been told that the only fix for their crumbling homes is demolition.
Kieran and Annette got the results of their engineer’s report on 1st April.
“You are kind of half hoping this is a really bad April Fools’ joke,” says Kieran. “Basically we’re going to have to toss the house.”
The lines began to show eight years ago. Every winter, they turned into deeper cracks.
At the Lafferty home, mum Veronica puts fairy lights into the cracks of her teenage daughters’ bedrooms, to try and take some attention away from reality. But they can’t hide it when water comes through the kitchen ceiling every time it rains. They can’t deny the possibility that they’ll have to cram into a mobile home on the back lawn when their house is being tumbled.
“We can’t get a house to rent, we can’t afford it anyway with the mortgage,” Oliver says.
“I have two unofficial quotes for the costs and both are in the region of €100,000 over the cap of €247,500 in the government scheme. I don’t have it, and I don’t have the means of getting it.
“Unless there is some drastic change, it’s going to leave the scheme outside my scope.”
Saturday’s protests demanded 100% redress and the same treatment that was given to families in Dublin and north Leinster under the pyrite scheme.
An estimated 10,000 people took to the streets in Buncrana, 2,000 in Letterkenny and hundreds in Mayo.
While the solidarity was heartwarming, Oliver said he could have done with 20 signs to illustrate his frustration.
He opted for a sign saying: “Billions for bankers, bondholders and all, but not for Mayo and Donegal.”
“I don’t like calling down the government but they handed bankers billions and billions, and threw our country into debt. It was their fault,” he said.
“We have done nothing wrong, the only thing that is wrong in my house is the fact that the government oversaw the production of those blocks and they failed to discover this problem that was legislated for in 1949.
“If the regulations had been adhered to, there would be no MICA problem.
“I slaved like a dog my whole life to build my house, myself and my wife, it’s soul destroying, the government is letting us down.”
Kieran too has become wary of the scheme and the supports.
“There were gaps from day one and the goal posts seem to be moving. With the cap on 90% we probably have to try and find €250,000 from somewhere, that’s probably only to rebuild the house.
“We could be expected to pay over €20,000 before building begins – that’s on the engineer’s report, testing, planning permission and the cost of demolishing the house.
“I’ve become very sceptical over the willingness there is to do something for us. I’ll not say it’s full-on hopelessness, because you’re looking for positives.”
Kieran praised the turnout at the weekend as fantastic.
“In the current circumstances with Covid, there will be people saying you shouldn’t have done that. But we are running out of time and options. The feeling is, unless this process bears fruit, there won’t be a second go,” he said.
And for Oliver, he wants the Taoiseach to reconsider his position on the scheme. That is despite Michael Martin’s comments last week on the monumental cost of MICA redress compared to Pyrite.
“Please, the people of Donegal are on our knees, we are Irish citizens, it’s through no fault of our own.”Tags: