The Defective Blocks grant scheme needs to be streamlined and updated to ensure homeowners never have to rebuild their homes again – that’s what a major conference has heard today.
The science and societal impacts of defective concrete are being discussed at length at a major conference in Letterkenny today.
All afternoon, speakers have been offering insight into the serious situation facing Donegal and other counties.
Councillor Martin McDermott, who is chair of Donegal County Council’s Defective Concrete Blocks Committee, said expertise and science will inform a way forward for homeowners to get their lives back together.
“No one wants to remediate their home and have to come back at it again in a few years’ time,” Cllr McDermott said.
The Inishowen councillor said that the outdated IS465 standard, which underpins remedial options, leaves the current process unworkable.
“Let’s be honest, over the last couple of years the process has been extremely red taped, it has been extremely difficult for engineers, for homeowners and for council staff to work because IS:465, as it stands, is not fit for purpose.”
Cllr McDermott stressed to John O’Connor, who is the Department of Housing’s Homeowner Liaison, that the process must be streamlined. Mr O’Conner is attending the conference remotely.
Just 16 homes in Donegal have had remedial works fully completed under the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme. Work has started on 42 homes. As of 1st November, more than 100 homes have had their grants approved, but there are currently 372 applications at Stage 1 approval, where the applications are approved. A further 671 applicants are being assessed at stage 1.
Cllr McDermott signalled hope for the almost 400 applications that were put on hold since last December. He said: “Over the next few weeks, the council are going to be moving applications as quickly as possible, they have brought in extra staff to make the process quicker between now and Christmas, it is very important we try to people get people’s money back to those that came into the scheme after 24th February, everyone needs that €6,000-7,000 back that they have been out for long periods of time.
“Some people have been waiting up to 18 months for a remediation option that should have been a simple remediation option because there are people in homes today that their house should not be lived in.
“Those remediation options have to be done in a quicker manner
“It doesn’t take a scientist to walk into someone’s house and see the way they are living and not determine that the house needs to be demolished.
“The simple fact of this is that we are dealing with people’s lives, we are dealing with what people have put their whole life into – building their family home.
“We have to make sure that whatever options are done it is the right one that stands over time, that those people can never ever go back to the nightmare they are living in.”
The conference continues until 10pm, watch live at the link below: