The Government is considering a proposal whereby the owners of homes constructed with defective mica blocks would receive compensation of up to about €350,000 for repairs, in addition to further redress for rent, storage, and medical expenses.
The decision-making process involves the Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien, considering a report by senior officials in his department before the matter is discussed by the leaders of the Government parties. Discussions with the Ministers for Finance and Public Expenditure are also necessary before a memo can be sent to Cabinet in the coming weeks. The Taoiseach has said that Government intervention will be unprecedented in scale and that nothing is off the table. But he has also stated that the 100% redress for MICA scandal sought by homeowners and supported by opposition parties is not a simple matter.
Last week, Eileen Doherty, a spokesperson for the Donegal Mica Action Group, noted the urgency of the matter and the need to put an end to the pain and suffering of the many families affected. Michael Doherty, another campaigner, expressed doubts as to whether campaign representatives would be provided with the departmental officials’ report and said that the redress scheme should not include a cap on awards or be limited to owner-occupied dwellings to the exclusion of buy-to-let residences. He also stated that the scale of the scheme means the Housing Agency would be better suited to administer it than local authorities.
A Defective Concrete Block Working Group has been established, consisting of homeowners from Mayo and Donegal, local authority officials from those counties, and the Department of Housing civil servants. It has discussed possible improvements to the current mica redress scheme over the summer. Mr O’Brien told RTÉ last week that he would consider the working group’s report in full. He said that, despite the existing Exchequer commitment of around €1.5 billion, he was convinced that the scheme could be improved and that he was willing to consider all proposals, including deploying the Housing Authority to assist local authorities.
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan has said that it would be “unfair” for the party to oppose paying for the rebuilding of affected one-off houses. Brian Hayes, the chief executive of Banking and Payments Federation Ireland, has criticised suggestions that banks be required to pay towards redress, saying that the problem was not of the banks’ making and that they have already provided affected homeowners with dedicated supports.