The problem of pyrite in local authority homes is something Mayo County Council is trying to address and is pushing with the relevant Government departments it was said this week.
Fine Gael councillor Gerry Coyle raised the issue at the January meeting of the West Mayo Municipal District this week, saying: “There are people living, where they can see out the side wall in council houses. Those houses, something has to be done and done quickly, because they are dangerous. I would go so far to say they are very dangerous. If I had a health and safety issue where I work, I would have everything in the country coming down, there would be the HSE and several more HSEs down. These people are living in houses that are not fit for purpose.”
Sinn Fein councillor Rose Conway Walsh also contributed to the debate, saying: “It has been quite a complex issue about who is responsible here, the main solution is obviously for the Government to extend their scheme, where they have confined it to the eastern part of the country. The other thing is there is a Supreme Court case coming up shortly where the responsibility lies in terms of the insurance companies and the outcome of that will determine who exactly can be sued or who has to compensate the householders, who in good faith purchased materials involved. It could be solved in the morning if the scheme was extended.”
Director of services for Mayo County Council, Martin Keating, told the meeting the council was pursuing the issue very strenuously. He said: “In relation to the pyrite issue in our local authority and social housing stock it is concerning, the current situation. We have made our case to the Department, they have gone and they have done a site visit to examine the stock. We continue to supply them with information, but a resolution doesn’t seem to be forthcoming from them. I do reiterate the urgency of the situation, while I don’t have concerns for the safety side, I do have concerns for their health and wellbeing in stock that is clearly substandard and is continuing to deteriorate, it is quite slowly but it is continuing to deteriorate. On a human level it is difficult to expect tenants to continue indefinitely to live those circumstances. We’ll continue to put pressure on the Department to come up a resolution. Our situation differs in two respects from others. First of all the original scheme was a defined area in Leinster generally, and I think it’s taking a while for the mindset to change that there are pyrite issues outside of that geographic area, and secondly, it was issues to do with the concrete in the foundations there, where are here is was in the actual block work itself and that’s the difference. Whatever the differences are, the outcomes are the same for our tenants and we continue to press the Department for a solution and we are trying to update our tenants as we can, but there isn’t a lot of information coming at this point in time.”