“That Dáil Éireann:
— during the Celtic Tiger building boom, light touch building regulation, poor oversight of construction products and reckless practice by some developers, builders and suppliers have left thousands of homeowners with significant building defects;
— in Donegal, Mayo and Clare, thousands of homeowners continue to be affected by defective blocks containing mica and pyrite;
— in June 2017, the Report of the Expert Panel on Concrete Blocks identified that thousands of homes in Donegal, and hundreds of homes in Mayo, were in need of remediation from mica and pyrite defective blocks;
— in 2020, the Government introduced the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme, to be administered through Donegal and Mayo County Councils, providing 90 per cent of the costs of remediation;
— during the course of 2021, it became clear to homeowners in Donegal and Mayo that the scheme was not fit for purpose and in many cases would only provide 70 per cent of the costs of remediation, or less; and
— homeowners in Clare, and other counties affected by defective blocks, have yet to be included in this scheme; and
— homeowners, who purchased or built their homes in good faith, should not be liable for the costs of remediation caused by the incompetence, negligence or deliberate non-compliance of others;
— the Government must immediately amend Statutory Instrument No. 25 of 2020, to provide those affected by defective blocks in Donegal, Mayo, Clare and other affected counties with 100 per cent redress, including remediation, storage and temporary accommodation costs; and
— the Government must also ensure that those responsible for the manufacture of defective blocks are held to account, and that industry contributes to the overall cost of remediating defective properties.”
The Minister will be aware that thousands of people from counties Donegal, Mayo, Clare and Sligo have come here to the centre of power and made their positions on this matter very clear. This motion follows the visit of Deputy McDonald to the affected families in Donegal just over a week ago. The families said they would be protesting on Tuesday, 15 June, when the Dáil returned after its recess. They asked the Deputy to put their case front and centre on that day, as Leader of the Opposition. That is how this motion came about. It reflects the demands of families in Donegal, Mayo, Clare and Sligo.
The motion calls for 100% redress that is fully funded. That would provide equality between the families in Donegal and Mayo and families in Dublin and north Leinster. More than 2,000 families in Dublin and north Leinster have availed of the fully funded pyrite remediation scheme. It is right that the scheme was fully funded. I ask the Minister, in his comments today, not to make a comparison between the cost of the pyrite remediation scheme and the cost of the defective concrete block scheme. Such a comparison is utterly offensive to people. It is the equivalent of two people drowning, one of whom is told they will be saved because they are not too hard on the diesel for the helicopter while the other person, who is far out at sea, is told they will be left to drown because we cannot afford the diesel. That would be unheard of and I ask the Minister not to make those sorts of comparisons today. These people are in exactly the same situation.
The people we represent did nothing wrong. They were victims of an era of light-touch regulation, self-regulation and no regulation during the Celtic tiger period, just like the families in Dublin and north Leinster. They are looking to be treated the same. That is our appeal to the Minister.
I also note the proposed amendment to the motion that adds Sligo into the narrative, which is fine. There is also an amendment that refers to a public inquiry, which is also absolutely fine. We want to focus our motion on 100% redress but we welcome the additions from our colleagues in the House and we can support those amendments.
I also understand the Government will not be opposing this motion, which is welcome news. There are people who are now heading home to Donegal, Mayo, Clare and other counties with hope in their hearts. We also hope they can get a good night's sleep for the first time in a long time. We were speaking to those families and many of them said it is a weight off their shoulders that the Government is signing up to a motion that calls for 100% redress. Let us be clear what is happening here. This is the democratically elected Parliament of the people and it will, it appears, this evening pass a motion calling clearly for 100% redress. I ask the Minister to urgently go about the process of implementing the desire and wishes of this Parliament, to work in partnership with the campaign groups to come to a 100% funded scheme to ensure that people will not be out huge amounts of money to make their homes safe. That is the call.
I have repeatedly raised this issue with the Minister over the past year through parliamentary questions and in this forum. Our requests to review the scheme were repeatedly put back. We were told it was too early. I welcome the fact that in recent times the Minister has accepted that this scheme is utterly unfit for purpose. I welcome the fact that the Government has agreed not to oppose this motion and it accepts that the desire of our Parliament is for a 100% funded scheme.
We ask the Minister to ensure the scheme is implemented urgently and as soon as possible in partnership with groups in Donegal and Mayo. We also ask that the families affected in Clare and Sligo are added to the scheme. Other families might also need to be added to the scheme. That is the challenge. We want to work with the Minister. The truth is that none of the public representatives in Donegal, no matter which political party they represent or who they are - they all know their neighbours - wanted this to happen and they all want to support their neighbours. I reach across and ask that we make this a fully funded scheme. Let us create equality between the east and west of Ireland. Let us work together to get this right, give people hope and show those young people who came out to the protest that when things are wrong, they can stand up, work with the political system and make change. It would give people faith and belief. That is my appeal to the Minister.