I welcome the Minister of State. He will be aware of the detail of the matter I am raising. I thank the Cathaoirleach for selecting it for inclusion on this morning's agenda. This matter relates to the difficult and serious issue of pyrite and mica, although I will concentrate on pyrite. I acknowledge the enormous amount of work Councillor Mark Duffy from Ballina, County Mayo, has done on this issue. It was he who first contacted me about the matter and he has persistently contacted me since on behalf of the people he represents in County Mayo. Many of the Minister's party colleagues in the constituency, including the former Minister, have worked exceptionally hard on the issue but the reality is that this issue is creating havoc. Many thousands of houses will potentially be exposed to pyrite-related damage.
We know there is a pyrite remediation scheme but it is not adequate. It is a good attempt. It goes 90% of the way but ideally it should go the full way. There are concerns that, if we are to retrofit, upgrade or improve houses, particularly those affected by pyrite and mica, today's standards would apply rather than the standards of a few years ago. It makes sense. There are additional difficulties in that, if some people need to demolish houses, there may be a requirement for planning permission. There has been movement there but it is still very awkward.
A young family with children whose home has been identified as having serious problems with pyrite or mica in Donegal, where this issue is particularly prevalent, will have to leave their home, pay rent for an alternative premises and service a mortgage on a property that is completely finished and must be demolished and broken down onto the ground. Such families will have to rent new accommodation, make the planning arrangements and clear the site. Some of them are getting funding, although not all. This problem affects both private houses and local authority houses and these are being dealt with through different mechanisms. There is again a major problem in that regard.
It is clear that we need to look again at the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland, SEAI, grants. That is important. Everyone I have spoken to, and to whom members of the Minister of State's party have also spoken, has said that it does not make sense not to address the issue if houses are being restructured or rebuilt.
I will now turn to the issue of mica in Buncrana in Donegal, where Councillor Nicholas Crossan is constantly campaigning to have the issue addressed. There is a problem. These properties are affected by both defective bricks and defective construction and this has the potential to render people homeless and leave them in debt. It is important that Government deal with Banking and Payments Federation Ireland to see if some kind of moratorium, suspension or freeze with regard to mortgages could be implemented when people are negotiating. The financial cost to those who own these properties is enormous, whether they are the occupiers, landlords or local authorities, as they are in many cases. We have to support people who have financial commitments and who have to find alternative accommodation in their communities because that is where their families are and where their children go to school, and for a whole range of other reasons.
This is a terrible situation for people to find themselves in. Many of those to whom I refer are having difficulties anyway as a result of issues relating to Covid, employment and income. The Minister of State knows that. I do not believe anyone in this House doubts that there is a need for supports. I ask that we take a fresh look at this issue and see if we can support local representative in these communities to help and support the people they represent in these homes, which are effectively condemned, and to stand in solidarity and empathy with them.