Wednesday 21 March 2018

The State won’t be paying for pyrite damage, it’s a civil matter - Taoiseach

Brian Hutton

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has dismissed claims the State should bear some responsibility for pyrite-damaged homes.

Socialist TD Joe Higgins said tens of thousands of homes were exploding in slow motion because of infected building materials used in their construction.

Developments in west and north Dublin, Meath and Kildare were among the worst hit by the unfolding crisis, he said.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan last week announced he was setting up a working group to look into the issue.

A High Court case has ruled that a quarry supplying material infected by pyrite - a defective infill used in foundations which expands and causes cracks and structural problems - was culpable.

But Mr Higgins said homeowners were left deeply worried by Mr Hogan's insistence that it was a civil matter and outside the responsibility of the State.

"The implication is that they will be left with their homes coming apart at the seams while a gaggle of developers, builders, insurance companies slug it out for years and years in the court to try and evade their responsibilities," he said.

Mr Higgins said the State had to shoulder blame because it was negligent over building regulations on materials going into housing, with the dangers of pyrite being known about for decades.

However, Mr Kenny insisted it was a civil matter but added the State had an interest because the experience was very distressing for affected homeowners.

The Taoiseach would not be drawn on calls for a remediation scheme but said he was sure homeowners would be represented on the working group.

"I think it is necessary to find out the scale of the truth of this first of all," he said.

"It is a matter of daily concern for those who have pride in their homes and find there is something happening over which they have no control."

HomeBond, a leading building insurance agent, has told affected homeowners it will not accept liability or pay out on claims.

Repair costs are estimated to be in the region of €70,000 per building.

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