Michael Ring TD, the Minister for Rural and Community Development has announced plans for a special scheme to repair homes affected by Mica and Pyrite to be introduced in Mayo and in Donegal.
Following the Government’s commitment in October 2018 to repair properties impacted by the issue in the two counties, €20 million has been pledged for the scheme this year with the worst-hit homes to be fixed first.
Minister Ring held discussions with An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD and with Ministers Paschal Donohoe and Eoghan Murphy on the plans for the scheme, the exceptional nature of the problem and special measures which are required to address the issue.
Minister Ring said: "The scheme is an exceptional measure in response to an exceptional need. Some homeowners are in dire straits. And this is the confirmation that these people need that the Government is to pay 90 per cent of the cost of repairing affected homes.”
The Mica/Pyrite scheme will be financed from central Government over a number of years through the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and administered and operated at a local authority level in Mayo and Donegal.
Experts on the scheme from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government will travel to Donegal next week for discussions with the County Council to advise on any remaining preparations for the roll-out of the scheme.
Senator Michelle Mulherin who has been involved with this issue for a number of years also welcomed the news saying: "It is planned that the scheme will be rolled out by Mayo County Council and Donegal County Council respectively. Minister Murphy has informed me that his officials will meet with each local authority in the coming week or so to work out how the scheme will operate. The management of the scheme by the local authorities is welcome and it is my hope that it will make the schemes more accessible to affected homeowners.
"I understand that cases will be prioritized on the basis of the severity of the pyrite problem. The final details of the scheme are being worked out including the level of contribution required from homeowners. I have argued that this should be as low as possible.
"Time is of the essence and all outstanding matters must be attended to immediately so that the scheme can be up and running in as short a time as possible. I know that homeowners are very anxious since the announcement in Budget 2019 in October of last year of the establishment of a scheme that there would be swift progress.
"Pyrite has had a devastating impact on homeowners across Mayo, with many seeing their homes becoming virtually worthless and many more finding themselves unable to find buyers for properties that have gone on sale.
"Funding for a remediation scheme has always been a top priority for me and I have left no stone unturned.Since the problem was first identified a number of years ago, I have been working tirelessly with the impacted homeowners to find a solution and I didn’t hesitate in bringing the matter to the attention of successive Ministers, as well as bringing them, and officials from the Department and statutory bodies, to Mayo to witness the problem for themselves. In the run-up to Budget 2019, I asked Minister Murphy and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, to make provision for a scheme and I was pleased that a figure has been decided on.
"Pyrite has had a devastating impact on home owners, with house sales falling through, serious structural damage to homes and at least one case of a homeowner being told that there was a serious risk of roof collapse.
Minister Ring added: "I want to pay tribute to the many families who have been living through this nightmare every day for many years. There are approximately 350 homes in Mayo which are affected by pyrite. Having visited Geesala with the Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal, Damien English, TD and Cllr Gerry Coyle to explore the issue, I am delighted that we now have resolution on this matter.
"This has been a long road for the many families living with pyrite and we hope now that this gives them some peace of mind and assurance that we are aiming to introduce the scheme early next year. The people affected by this issue have shown immense patience, determination and fortitude in working with us to secure this resolution.
“I also want to acknowledge Senator Paudie Coffey, who as Minister in the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government set up the expert group to investigate Mica and pyrite issues in Donegal and Mayo as well as Minister of State Damien English TD who has also been a constant support."