More pyrite-affected buildings emerge across county, as homeowners head to capital protest

Cllr Gerry Coyle told the meeting about the first time he had encountered pyrite in homes in north Mayo.

Cllr Gerry Coyle told the meeting about the first time he had encountered pyrite in homes in north Mayo.

More buildings impacted by the pyrite crisis have emerged in other areas of the county, it has emerged this week, as affected homeowners and supporters make the long trip to Dublin today (Friday ) to take part in another protest calling for 100 per cent redress under the Defective Concrete Blocks scheme.

They will be joined by Mica-affected homeowners from Donegal who are also calling for 100 per cent redress for their homes. The current scheme only allows for a maximum of 90 per cent redress. The pyrite issue was the focus of a special meeting of Mayo County Council this week, where councillors rowed in behind the call for 100 per cent redress for those affected in Mayo.

The meeting heard that not only residences, but commercial buildings in other areas are now being found to have been impacted by the crisis.

It was also suggested that outside of the areas that it is known where pyrite is affecting homes in north Mayo in Erris, Belmullet, Ballina, Crossmolina and Foxford, there are reports of pyrite also affecting homes in places such as Castlebar and Westport.

Director of Services for Mayo County Council, Tom Gilligan responded to a query on the spread of pyrite saying: "The work dates back to the expert panel which dealt predominantly in the north of the county, particularly in the Erris, Belmullet, Ballina area and at the moment the major towns we are seeing issues in are Ballina, Foxford, Belmullet and Crossmolina.

"But there are reports of other towns that this is in, such as Castlebar and Westport and it is not just homes that are impacted; there are secondary buildings impacted as well - offices and commercial buildings, it is not just something that is impacting homeowners.

"Definitely in relation to other buildings as well, this is very much a live issue and the report primarily doesn't deal with that it is very much homeowners, I am very conscious there are other issues out there apart from people's private principal residence.

The council said that they may need to look for additional resources to deal with a potential increase in applications under the redress scheme, something suggested by Fianna Fáil Cllr Michael Loftus who suggested that the council need to set up a special department with its own staff to look after it. Chief executive of the council Kevin Kelly said the council would be certainly looking for additional resources should be the scheme be extended.

Mayo County Council has so far received 110 applications for stage one of the scheme, 93 have been approved; one has been refused and 16 are pending. There have been 14 applications for stage two with nine approved and five pending.

Fine Gael Cllr Neil Cruise who called for the special meeting outlined a number of suggestions to improve the current scheme including, any VAT for pyrite works should be reclaimable, planning permission for rebuilding of homes on existing footprints should be dealt with by way of the council's part eight planning process, SEAI grants for older homes should be extended to pyrite effected homes, a €50,000 grant to encourage people to bring vacant homes back into use and that the redress should be 100 per cent.

His party colleague Gerry Coyle who has been working on this issue for a number of years told the meeting: "I have spoken on this issue quite a lot in the last ten years, it is worth remembering that the first protest in Mayo there was only two people at it. A family in Belmullet came up to protest outside the Fine Gael convention in this very building (Royal Theatre ), they came up wanting to speak to Enda Kenny on the day.

"This has been torture from day one, from the first poor divil who brought me to his house, I wasn't heeding him to tell you the truth the first day he came. He said 'I've pyrite in my house', I said there is no pyrite in the west it is only over in the east. I didn't go near his house for three months to tell you the truth, he called back to me in the garage and said 'are you not going to come back and see the house'.

"So I went out and was stunned, I said is there more and he said 'there is' and we drove around and that day we looked at nine or so houses, I was taking pictures as I was going and I couldn't believe it. I got in touch with some of the highest levels of government and even they were sceptical. In the meantime a few days later the group he was part of went to Dublin to the department and they got a cold shoulder, very cold shoulder." He went on to say that only when the stories started appearing in the media did things start to change.


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