On Tuesday, large numbers of Mayo homeowners affected by pyrite in their homes and their supporters, joined homeowners from Donegal, whose homes are affected by Mica, at a protest in Dublin calling for 100 per cent redress for the repair of their homes.
Later on that evening, a Sinn Féin motion calling for 100 per cent redress for those affected was passed in the Dáil. Speaking on the motion, Mayo Sinn Féin TD Rose Conway Walsh said: "I am proud of all the Mayo people who are fighting back and who have been working for years for fairness and equity with the original pyrite remediation scheme in the East. They have left the government in no doubt that they will not be treated as second class citizens.
"I welcome the government's acknowledgement that the scheme as currently presented is not fit for purpose and that changes will be made. However, I am concerned that while they did not oppose the motion, they did not yet explicitly commit to 100% redress.
"Minister O’Brien has now estimated the total cost to be in the region of €2.5 billion. Our motion called for the government to ensure that those responsible for this scandal are held to account and that the industry contributes to the overall costs of reinstating homes and buildings.
"The Taoiseach has said he will consult the Attorney General in this regard. I welcome this but this should have been done at least eight years ago when the problem of pyrite first came to light.
"It is regrettable that so many families have had to suffer for so many years; years they will never get back. This nightmare must now be brought to an end without further delays.
"In my Dáil contribution I commended the tireless work and dedication of Josephine Murphy, Dorothy Keane, Michael Healy and others in the original action group without whom there would be no scheme to amend, as well as Lauren Devers and Jamie Lee Donnelly, who are doing trojan work."
"I ask that the Minister stand with them, because I certainly will" - Calleary
Also speaking on the motion in the Dáil was Mayo Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary, who said: "I stand proudly to support this motion and thank Deputies Mac Lochlainn and Conway-Walsh for putting it forward. I acknowledge the Minister's work on this issue in recent months and over the past number of days in particular.
"It is important that this huge effort and great personal commitment to the matter give results for homeowners. We, in this House, and the Minister, do not have time for delays. Homeowners, their families and their communities do not have time. We need a scheme that begins to deliver without any further delay. Homeowners' lives are broken.
"For every crumbling block, there is a crumbling life. I spoke to homeowners this evening who have been campaigning on this issue for nearly ten years. I commend all of those involved. Their courage in telling their stories stands in contrast to the lack of courage and the behaviour of quarry owners and various agencies that have left homeowners abandoned in this.
"The motion commits to a scheme of 100 per cent redress and that is what must be delivered. Priority must be given to homeowners but we cannot ignore the rental sector. To ignore those houses would mean being left with a decimated rental stock.
"There are other areas of home ownership that are excluded from the current scheme and they must also be addressed. We must have a mechanism to include homeowners in other counties, particularly County Sligo. The process for rolling out the scheme needs to be addressed and made much easier. The role of the Pyrite Resolution Board and its experience in running the current scheme should be incorporated within local authorities.
"There must be agreement on a communal and shared cost per square foot. In assessing applications, local authorities are using a model that is very different from the reality in terms of current building costs. Those costs have increased by 30 per cent since February and many applications that were submitted at that time are going out of date. We need a State guarantee around building because builders will not engage with the scheme in that aspect. We also need to follow up on a State inquiry as to why those who caused this problem are getting away with it. If they are still getting away with it, that needs to be resolved urgently, without any further delay.
"The first scheme had the basis of a good system but its roll-out, the lack of commitment to it from local authorities and the detail of it, which did not involve homeowners, made it a scheme that is not working. I welcome the Minister's inclusion of homeowners on this occasion. We must ensure they own the scheme and that it delivers for their families and communities and will take away the trauma of their daily lives in houses with pyrite and mica. I acknowledge the trauma it is causing people, forcing them to leave bedrooms at night because of draughts and sleep in sitting rooms, or even forcing them to leave their homes. When they leave their homes to have them repaired, they must be given compensation for the rental costs.
"Residents in counties Mayo, Sligo and Donegal were sold defective blocks. They will not be sold a pup in relation to this scheme. I ask that the Minister stand with them, because I certainly will."
Coyle hits out at fellow councillors
Earlier this week at the June meeting of Mayo County Council, Fine Gael councillor Gerry Coyle hit out at his fellow councillors for not supporting him in the past when he raised the issue of pyrite affecting homes in the Erris region over the past eight years. Speaking at the meeting Cllr Coyle said: "It fell on deaf ears for eight years and the only reason that it fell on deaf ears was because it was a Belmullet problem. No one opens their mouths about it here, the council or nobody, each time I raised it. This is a problem for all of us, but none of you listened because you were asleep at the wheel, when it was down the road in Belmullet nobody cared."
Cllr Coyle went on to say: "There is only two people outside my party who I want to mention and that is Dara Calleary (FF ) and Rose Conway Walsh (SF ), because the rest of you sat around because it wasn't a problem to you."
He added that while he was not happy with large parts of the current redress scheme, at the time it was better than nothing and without the support of former Mayo County Council chief executive, Peter Hynes, and former Minister for Housing, Damien English, there probably wouldn't have been a scheme. He also praised the work of former TD and Senator Michelle Mulherin for her work on the issue in her time in the Oireachtas.
Cllr Coyle hit out at his fellow councillors, saying "Not one councillor since came down, only Rose Conway (Walsh ) and me, when we went to see the houses when Damien English came down. Not one councillor opened their mouth to support anything I put in. I have mentioned it 18 times at different meetings between council and area meetings."