I wish to raise with the Tánaiste the report of the expert panel on concrete blocks in counties Donegal and Mayo published two weeks ago. The report outlines how up to 4,800 homes in County Donegal and 345 homes in County Mayo are affected by defective blocks.
It identified the issue in County Donegal as being the presence of the mineral muscovite mica in the blocks, while in County Mayo it identified the presence of pyrite as the reason for their being defective. The report also outlined that this happened as a result of a failure to implement appropriate manufacturing standard and of a failure of the building control authorities to properly oversee manufacturing standards.
Anyone who watched "Prime Time" last Thursday and saw Eddie and Maria McDaid from Buncrana, County Donegal, show their home to the cameras, and who saw Mr. McDaid put his foot to the base of the block at the outside of his home and take it apart with his foot, would have been horrified. I commend "Prime Time" on its public service in broadcasting that programme last week and a similar programme a number of months ago. Families such as the McDaids are living a nightmare. They are faced with a situation where their homes, into which they have put their life and soul, are deteriorating and, in cases, crumbling around them. They are facing a situation in which they still have to pay a mortgage on those homes and cannot insure them.
Up until now the Government's response to this issue has been entirely unsatisfactory. It has tried to delay having to deal with it. It delayed initially when agreeing to the expert panel. When it announced the establishment of that panel in November 2015, the terms of reference gave the panel a report date of May 2016, yet the Government did not put the full membership of that committee in place until April 2016. This meant that the report was delayed until October of last year. It was then delayed until December of last year. When the draft report was submitted to the Department in February of this year, the Government still did not get around to publishing it until two weeks ago.
This delaying must stop and these families must be offered hope and a way out of their nightmare. There was a large meeting of affected homeowners in Donegal last night. What we now need, and what those people who are living that nightmare need, is a commitment from the Tánaiste and the Government that a remediation scheme will be put in place, as happened previously with the pyrite cases in the east of the country. Will the Government give a commitment to put a remediation scheme in place? Will it implement the full recommendations of the expert panel report?