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Firm in mica controversy ordered to shut concrete plant


Thousands demonstrated in Dublin about their defective homes. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Thousands demonstrated in Dublin about their defective homes. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Thousands demonstrated in Dublin about their defective homes. Photo: Steve Humphreys

A building firm caught up in the mica scandal has been instructed to shut down one of its plants following an investigation into planning issues, Independent.ie has learned.

Cassidy Brothers has been hit with an enforcement notice in respect of land in Cranford, Co Donegal, where it has a concrete batching plant and storage yard.

Donegal County Council has also opened three unauthorised development cases in respect of other sites associated with the business.

The enforcement notice was issued by the council on October 21.

It requires that the concrete batching plant cease operation within eight weeks and that all plant equipment be removed from the lands.

The move is thought to be the first significant enforcement action by the council against a firm caught up in the mica scandal.

All products for sale in the storage yard, including reinforced lintels, kerb stones, paving caps, pier caps, concrete blocks and stockpiles of sand must also be removed.

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The notice also requires the business to secure the site with 1.8m high security fencing. It warns that failure to comply may be an offence.

Cassidy Brothers is one of a number of firms at the centre of the controversy over the presence of mica, a destructive mineral, in concrete blocks. It was one of the main suppliers of blocks for homes in the northwest.

The firm has insisted its masonry blocks always met all required standards at point of manufacture.

Details of the enforcement notice and the existence of the three unauthorised development cases were disclosed to clients of Coleman Legal, a law firm representing around 200 parties affected by mica.

Donegal County Council confirmed to Independent.ie that each matter was the subject of active enforcement but declined to comment further.

In a statement, Cassidy Brothers said: “Donegal County Council has raised a number of planning issues with us and we are actively and constructively engaging with the council to address all of the said issues.

“Separately, we also note that it has been reported that the Housing Minister has ordered an audit of all quarries in County Donegal and again we welcome this development. We have and will continue to cooperate fully with any and all public or independent inquiries and studies.”

In a statement, Coleman Legal said clients had been liaising with the council for several months highlighting various planning discrepancies in relation to quarries in Co Donegal.

“As a result of these inquiries, we have learned an enforcement notice has been issued to close the concrete batching plant at Devlinmore, Cranford,” the firm said.

“Further investigations reveal unauthorised development files have been opened at Topmix, Magheraboy and Cassidy’s Quarry, Gransha, Buncrana and Cassidy’s blockmaking facility, Gransha, Buncrana.

“On behalf of our clients, we welcome any development that assists in full planning compliance for quarries. As the matter is shortly to be the subject of litigation, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

The Department of Housing estimates that 6,600 homes may require remediation works as a result of defective blocks and a Government report estimated the cost of scheme to deal with the issue could reach €3.2bn.

Homes in Donegal, Mayo, Clare, and Sligo have been affected by defective blocks.

Ten “pathfinder” lawsuits are expected to be filed shortly against quarry operators, block suppliers and relevant State bodies amid concerns thousands of property owners will fall outside the Government scheme or will be inadequately compensated.

Applications are expected to be made to enter the cases on the High Court’s fast track commercial list, which deals with claims in excess of €1m.

Cassidy Brothers has previously said it was as shocked when damage emerged in properties and that it acted honestly and in good faith at all times by manufacturing to set and established standards.

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