Two Mayo senators have called on the Government to bring in a remediation scheme for homes in north Mayo that have been affected by pyrite. Both Sinn Féin senator Rose Conway-Walsh and Fine Gael senator Michelle Mulherin called for such a scheme to be put in place this week after the Expert Panel on Concrete Blocks published their report.
Senator Conway-Walsh said, "At long last we now have a conclusive report confirming pyrite in blocks used to build private and public houses in Mayo and Donegal. We now know at least 345 private homeowners and a number of council estates in Mayo are being destroyed with pyrite. A redress scheme must be put in place immediately. Let this be the first job for the new senior minister.
"There is now no doubt that the State is culpable for the absence of sufficient regulation to protect homeowners and even on the implementation of the regulation that was in place between 1997 and 2006. This can only be put right by a redress scheme to enable homeowners to rebuild and the introduction of new regulations as well as the implementation of existing regulations. The time for talking is now over."
Senator Mulherin also called for a scheme saying: “I am calling on the incoming minister for finance to make provision for a remediation scheme in the forthcoming budget, to assist people in Mayo whose homes have been affected. Pyrite in concrete blocks can have a devastating effect on a person’s home. The publication of the Expert Panel on Concrete Blocks has estimated that this issue affects approximately 345 homes here in Mayo. It is a technical engineers' report setting out the real threat to the structural integrity of affected homes. The most effective remediation solutions suggested involve practically the removal of affected blockwork and the reconstruction of the houses. This clearly will involve considerable expense on homeowners.
“All of this underlines the need that householders be provided with financial assistance to fix their home and for a remediation scheme for pyrite blocks similar to that set up on the east coast to remedy pyrite heave in foundations be established. It is also imperative in any such scheme that a pathway be set out whereby when remediation works are carried out to specified standards that a certificate of structural soundness will issue in respect of the affected property so there will be no question other than the owners will be able to sell and mortgage their properties like any other in the future.
“This is an issue that is very important to me. Buying a home is perhaps one of the biggest milestones in a person’s life. They need to be assured that what they buy is fit for purpose and meets minimum standards. I have been working on this issue since 2013 when I reported the first cases brought to me by householders to the then minister Phil Hogan. More recently since the setting up of the Expert Group in 2016 I facilitated a visit by junior minister with responsibility for housing Damien English and Department officials to a number of the affected houses where he saw first-hand the problem and met with the homeowners. It is very distressing for the homeowners involved. We need to put funds in place for a remediation scheme for pyrite in blockwork similar to what was done for homeowners in the east of the country where pyrite heave identified in foundations."