As the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage is aware, thousands of families from the west of Ireland have had their lives torn asunder by the mica and pyrite scandal. Their homes are crumbling around them. This is a national disaster. It is an earthquake happening in slow motion. The trail of devastation winds its way through communities that share the sorrow and anger of their families, friends and neighbours. These communities range from my own in north County Donegal, down through counties Sligo, Mayo and on to Clare, Limerick and Tipperary. On Friday, the families and their supporters will again descend on Dublin to protest to get the Government to deliver 100% redress. They should not have to do this.
On June 15, the very day the families last protested in Dublin, this Dáil unanimously passed a motion instructing the Government to provide 100% redress. Four months ago, these families should have seen their nightmare finally brought to an end. It is a nightmare that has taken a heavy financial toll on them. There has been financial ruin, emotional breakdown and a real sense of abandonment by the State. Here we are in October, and the families are left with no other option but to again travel to the capital and shout as loudly as possible for the Government to hear them. Full 100% redress is the only just solution. It must cover the cost of demolition and rebuilding because that is the reality facing so many of our families. There homes must be demolished because the blocks used in their construction are crumbling like Weetabix biscuits. In many cases, only demolition and rebuilding will ensure a safe home in many cases. The Government cannot walk away from this truth. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil Deputies in the six affected counties see that truth. They all support 100% redress. Has the Minister spoken to them all? Have they told him what they have witnessed? Have they explained the condition of these houses and the misery of the families? If they have, and if he has listened, there is no way the full cost of demolition and rebuilding will be left out of redress. Last July, in a deeply moving video, The Irish Times interviewed five County Donegal families whose homes are crumbling. I wish to read the words of Sally Ruddy, taken from that video, to the Minister. Sally said:
You think heartbreak. You think that it is something with a starting point and a finishing point. But this just drags on for years and years. There is no end and there is no end in sight ...
The Minister has it in his power to bring an end to the families' agony. He can tell them they do not need to come to Dublin as they will have 100% redress. He may not have all the details but surely he can give them that assurance. The families are not going away. They have risen above the trauma and have found their strength, and it is powerful. They have won the hearts and minds of the people because the people know what is right. Do not force them to come to Dublin again this Friday. Do the right thing. End their agony. Tell them they will have 100% redress.