Homes already identified as having pyrite issues should be put top of redress list

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring pictured before a meeting with Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal, Damien English TD and interested/affected parties in Geesala recently regarding the Report of the Expert Panel on Concrete Blocks (Pyrite).

Minister for Rural and Community Development, Michael Ring pictured before a meeting with Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal, Damien English TD and interested/affected parties in Geesala recently regarding the Report of the Expert Panel on Concrete Blocks (Pyrite).

The 362 homes in Mayo that have been identified as having issues with pyrite in the blocks should be put at the top of any redress list if funding becomes available, the July meeting of the West Mayo Municipal District was told this week. Sinn Féin councillor Teresa Whelan put forward that idea at Monday's meeting which was held in Geesala.

The situation is so bad with some houses, Cllr Michael Holmes said: "For those people who haven't actually seen the problem it is very difficult for them to understand what the problem is. You could hand a letter in the end of some of these houses, that's how bad it is."

Cllr Whelan told the meeting: "These people didn't wake up one morning and decide they were going to build a house and go down to the quarry and buy a couple of thousand blocks. They paid professionals, they paid an engineer, they paid the bank's engineer, they paid solicitors to protect their interests. Where are the regulations? Where are the standards?

"In Dublin there was a redress scheme. These 362 families [in Mayo] have to go to the top of the list, when this money comes in. The houses will have to be tested again and we know that when a scheme comes in the floodgates will open, but these people have to be put top of the list - because there are hundreds more houses that have pyrite. My suggestion is that the 362 houses that have been identified, that they come top of the list and they get their money first, and then after that by all means everybody else. These people are effectively homeless, they have to be looked after."

Fine Gael councillor Gerry Coyle, who has been very vocal on the issue for a number of years, said: "We had Minster Michael Ring TD and Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal, Damien English TD in Erris last week to update the locals, and the Minister will come back in September to explain where we will go from here.

"There are some of the houses I wouldn't live in, I probably wouldn't stay the night in them. The have Weetabix blocks, there are people running away from their responsibilities for them. If you build a house it's not best before 2014 or 2015 - it's supposed to be for life. The people are living in fear and have to pay their mortgage."

Padraig Walsh head of the West Mayo Municipal District for Mayo County Council told the meeting: "The report has been published and in Mayo we have set up an in-house working group who are reviewing what is in the report and seeing where we can go and put together a report for the department and hope to work with them to solve the issue."

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