The deluge of High Court writs issued by Donegal property owners hit by the mica scandal is expected to exceed 1,000 cases this week, making it one of the biggest mass legal actions in the history of the State.
As of Friday, more than 800 writs had been issued in a co-ordinated legal campaign to sue Cassidy Brothers, the largest supplier of concrete in the country, Donegal County Council and the National Standards Authority of Ireland.
The number taking the legal action is expected to close out at 2,000 in the coming weeks, with the value of claims running to an estimated €550m.
It is being funded by business people Shaun Hegarty and Adrian Sheridan through a not-for-profit company trading as Donegal Concrete Defects. Dublin firm Coleman Legal, which specialises in multi-party claims, is handling the writes.
In a statement to the Sunday Independent last week, Cassidy Bros said it had “no comment to make on the matters currently before the High Court”.
It added it has always adhered rigidly to the industry standards set down by government and regulatory bodies in the manufacturing of all products.
“All Cassidy Bros products always met all of the required standards at the point of manufacture,” the statement said.
The homeowners are racing to lodge the legal actions before a new €2.7bn grant scheme from the Government to rebuild properties is signed into law.
Groups representing property owners say the scheme does not go far enough and will not cover the true cost of the rebuild.
They are suing for what they say is the difference between the state grant and the actual cost of rebuilding their properties.
Homeowners will be claiming an average of around €50,000 to €75,000, while owners of commercial and
other properties that are not included in the scheme will be claiming for far more.
The scheme could end up costing €3.65bn with inflation, the Government has been warned, while it has also come in for political criticism.
Joe McHugh, a Fine Gael TD in Donegal, refused to support the scheme, voting against it in the Dáil and later resigning the party whip.
Four counties have been included in the Government’s €2.7bn defective block concrete scheme.
The scheme provides for grants for homeowners in Donegal, Mayo and other counties to repair defects caused by mica, offering 100pc redress up to a cap of €420,000.
However, Aidan O’Connell, an engineer and expert, told an Oireachtas committee last month that at least 13 counties were now affected.
Mr O’Connell also told the committee he knew of “certain quarries that are still producing concrete blocks and material that is wholly unsatisfactory and they continue to do it knowing that material is still wholly unsatisfactory”.
He added: “I believe that some TDs and other public personnel do know that themselves, and I would encourage them to try to use any of their authority to get it stopped. It is only a few bad apples that are still out there. Generally, I would say the industry has improved.”