I welcome the Minister to the House to discuss the mica and pyrite redress scheme. I thank him for the time and attention he has given us thus far and I also thank the Taoiseach and other parties to Government. The report of the working group released last week has caused an awful lot of distress to families in County Donegal and probably County Mayo. The Minister is well aware of the mental health issues and grievances of and difficulties faced by families and this seems to be adding to them in terms of the sum of €3.2 billion that has been put out there, which had not been discussed within that forum. I spoke to some members of the working group earlier. There is a feeling within the group that it is some effort to make this extortionate, which it in no way is.
All they are seeking is what other members of the public received in the past and to have their homes rectified. That is the first thing I want the Minister to address in that regard.
There are many other issues in the scheme that have to be addressed, such as the regulations that currently exist and also with respect to HomeBond. This is something I want to Minister to keep at the back of his mind. They need to be addressed to ensure this does not happen in the future. There is also mention of €350,000 in the report last week. Building costs in Donegal have increased by 40% to 50% in the last nine months alone. If one were to incorporate that increase against the old ceiling of €275,000, the sum of €350,000 would not address the cost required in Donegal. I hope any new proposals in the scheme take cognisance of that.
Could the Minister inform the House when he expects to meet the three party leaders? Can he inform us of any timeline regarding any changes in the scheme that he intends to make and announce? Will planning exemption be a part of the scheme? If so and if a family wishes to downsize to a smaller scale of the same house within the original print of the house, will they be part of any such exemption? With regard to the square footage caps of the old scheme, is there an intention now to set them aside and to go purely on a cost basis? As I said, I understand the difficulties with the budget over the next week or so, but I believe the Minister can alleviate many of the fears people have with regard to, first, the timeframe for the announcement and, second, the report last week and the difficulties it has caused.