Thousands of Irish homeowners affected by the use of the mineral mica in construction blocks are to continue their fight for full redress. A protest has been organised in the capital on October 8th.
The houses in question were made of blocks weakened by use of mica, and as a consequence many are at risk of collapse. Over 4,000 houses are believed to be affected by the issue across counties Donegal and Mayo.
Some 7,000 people have been devastatingly impacted by the mica scandal, saying that their houses are falling down around them.
Videos posted to social media showed the walls of houses literally crumbling away, causing shock and disgust among many, while schools and community centres have also been impacted by the use of blocks containing high levels of mica. Mica, a mineral, absorbs water and can cause walls to crack and crumble.
Thousands of people are set to attend the October protest, which is being organised by the 100% Redress NO LESS group, the Mica Action group and others.
The announcement of the upcoming protest comes as Tánaiste Leo Varadkar recently seemed to pour cold water on families’ hopes for a 100% redress.
Varadkar all but ruled out full redress for homeowners impacted, claiming that it would open the floodgates for other groups seeking the same level of support. He also said that providing a 100% compensation scheme to those who have had their homes destroyed could seriously impact public finances.
“We do have to bear in mind the impact on the general taxpayer as well,” Mr Varadkar said.
But Varadkar’s remarks sparked outrage among campaigners who said they were “disgusted” with his comments and the Tánaiste was “breaking the hearts ”of impacted homeowners.
Families affected have previously called on the Irish government to revamp a two-year-old support scheme, and various protests and events have been organised in hopes of accelerating their campaign for full redress.
Under the two-year-old scheme which they argue is grossly unfair, homeowners are required to foot the bill for 10% of repairs, plus any outstanding mortgage payments on the home, with the government covering 90% of the cost.
Campaigners say people are distressed and angry that a redress scheme for homes affected by Mica does not compensate them fully for the cost of rebuilding.
Earlier this month, thousands of people assembled outside Donegal County Council in Lifford to demand 100% redress for homeowners whose houses were made with defective mica blocks.
At the Donegal protest, Inishowen man Paddy Diver of Mica Action Group said that over 7,000 people were affected and that the government should be ashamed to leave families in dire straits.
Large protests involving homeowners and local groups have also taken place in Letterkenny and Buncrana in late May, and in June, thousands affected marched on the Dáil, hoping it would effectively impact politicians in order to achieve a full redress. Up to 10,000 protesters marched on the Irish Parliament in Dublin in support of people affected by the defective block scandal.
The campaign for 100% redress has gained support from high-profile personalities, including the manager of Ireland’s international football team, Stephen Kenny. He recently backed the campaign, adding his support in a social media video. In County Derry, a message of solidarity with the affected homeowners, many of whom say their houses have become impossible to live in, has been painted onto ‘Free Derry’ corner.
Mica affected homeowner Diver took to Twitter on Wednesday to promote the next protest, sharing a promotional infographic writing: “It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for our weekly TWITTER STORM where we get #MicaRedress trending no. 1”.
🚨 HERE WE GO 🚨
It's Wednesday, which means it's time for our weekly TWITTER STORM where we get #MicaRedress trending no. 1
But today there is a caveat: we are going to push our protest in Dublin on OCTOBER 8th using the hashtag #MicaProtest
Spread the word and good luck 💪 pic.twitter.com/C9V1NUGaoj
— Paddy Diver (@PaddyDiver4) September 22, 2021
“But today there is a caveat: we are going to push our protest in Dublin on OCTOBER 8th using the hashtag #MicaProtest,” Diver tweeted. He asked his almost 7,000 followers to “spread the word” about the demonstration.
The infographic shared by Diver said that the provisional date for the protest is October 8th, but that this date was subject to a government decision to be made by September 30th.
Many showed their support for the campaign, with one person replying beneath: “Don’t usually do protests. But I’ll make an exception for this one”.