Mica and Pyrite homeowners from across Donegal, Mayo, Clare, Limerick and Sligo say their campaign and protests will continue until the Defective Blocks bill is amended and made right.
The Defective Block bill is scheduled to be debated in the Dail today.
A joint statement from Donegal Mica Action Group, Mayo Pyrite Action Group, Clare Pyrite Action Group, Limerick Action Group and Sligo Action Group has called on the government to listen before it is too late.
“Listen, because to date, you have not listened. We are angry, frustrated and the endless torture will not be tolerated to go on a minute further,” they said.
“Over the past week, and pressed to the wall we have worked around the clock to put forward 80 amendments to make this scheme work. 80 amendments because that are the number of failures in this bill. We the homeowners are calling on you the elected TDs to listen carefully to the amendments put forward today. They have come from the insight and suffering over long years of those who know what it means to live in these homes. The new Scheme will not work without these amendments. By ignoring us again today, you are wasting more money, destroying more lives. ”
Last week, homeowner representatives gave presentations at a shortened pre-legislative scrutiny session before the Oireachtas housing committee, scrutinising the flaws in the Government’s bill.
Campaigners have today called on government TDs to “forget party politics” and focus on what is best for constituents.
“To date this government has broken all parliamentary process when trying to rush this scheme through the statutory legislative stages. You have given us no time to review the bill, no time to debate the bill, no time to even communicate and discuss the consequences of the long-term aspects of the bill to the thousands of homeowners whose lives will be destroyed by not only defective blocks, but your failure to provide true redress for the problem,” the statement continued.
Addressing the Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien, they said: “Minister let us be clear, so our words are not misunderstood. If this bill is not amended, we the homeowners will not support it. We will continue our campaign and protests until it is amended, until it is fit for purpose. Fit for the citizens of this country who need to avail of it to fix their homes. It is not just our houses that this is destroying, but our daily lives, our working lives, our family lives, our physical and mental wellbeing, the very fabric of our communities.
“Minister we will not give up. The time for engagement is over. Amendments are needed. It’s time that your Government and its Dept of Housing listen and deliver what has been promised. ”
The group said that homeowners have been victimised by political spin for 10 years.
“Over the past ten years, we have engaged endlessly with different government officials and government parties. We have entered talks bringing with us our lived experience of this nightmare. Arming each official with the practical solutions of what is needed on the ground to deliver a scheme that will rebuild our homes.
“At each stage we have encountered obstacles. We had been delivered a scheme that was so flawed it proved financially unviable, and practically unworkable to be of any use for impacted homeowners.”
The enhanced Defective Blocks Scheme unveiled in November, they said, was a ‘trojan horse’ that painted homeowners as “greedy” and “chancers”. The new scheme, however, was “contempt” for homeowners and lacked justice.
“Their indifference for the people in homes built with defective blocks quite evident through the schemes many clauses and trappings,” the statement said.
“This bill was due to be different. This engagement would be different from past experience. We would work together to design a Scheme that truly provided the 100% Redress, that the full Government supported on June 15th 2021.
“Last week we were due to see the fruits of our labour delivered. A workable scheme that would enable the thousands of homeowners across 13 counties to move forward with their lives. Instead, what was delivered over 60 pages was contempt for us homeowners, in the same week the Housing Committee heard quarries are still producing defective materials. How can we trust a system which is not fit for purpose failing in its responsibility to protect victims, citizens, and taxpayers? Threats of fines and imprisonment for innocent homeowners. Minister nowhere mentioned were the equivalent fines or threats of imprisonment for the true perpetrators in this. The producers of these defective blocks, including giants of the Irish Concrete Industry.
“We have scaled every obstacle put in our way. But it appears the government has strung us along for months. Practically every suggestion and solution presented ignored by the Department of Housing and Housing Agency officials. The voices and plight of the ordinary homeowners treated with cynical contempt by those with the power to do better by us.
“While we wait on the IS465 review which we need to include all deleterious materials scientifically proven to be problematic, along with foundations, you must ensure for us, your electorate these amendments are made. You must forget party politics and focus on what is best for your constituents no matter what their political allegiance and show the flexibility to be the change required to finally make this scheme work.”
Legislation for the enhanced Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme will come before the Seanad and the Dáil this week and is expected to be presented for final approval next month.