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Retrospective grants should be put in place for some mica-affected homeowners, housing committee hears

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien urged to compensate people who have had to demolish and rebuild their homes

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A mica-damaged home

A mica-damaged home

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien. Photo: Gareth Chaney /Collins Dublin

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien. Photo: Gareth Chaney /Collins Dublin

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A mica-damaged home

Homeowners with mica-affected homes who have had to demolish and fully rebuild their houses should receive retrospective grants, according to the Dáil’s housing committee.

The Dáil today will hear debates on the new mica redress scheme, which provides for grants of up to €420,000 and could cost the State more than €3bn.

The Oireachtas housing committee has urged housing minister Darragh O’Brien to compensate people who have had to demolish and rebuild their homes “in the absence of a grant scheme”.

In a letter to Mr O’Brien, TDs and Senators also say that homeowners who build a smaller house in the same place after demolishing a mica-ridden home should not have their grant allocation reduced.

Chair Steven Matthews writes the committee is “concerned” that “a rigid application of the damage threshold could result in affected homeowners being unfairly excluded from the scheme”.

The minister should consider if the mica scheme should be altered so the damage threshold is “flexible and relevant” to different type of damage caused by mica or other minerals across the country.

This “damage threshold” should then be used “as a means to prioritise eligible applicants”, the minister was told.

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Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien. Photo: Gareth Chaney /Collins Dublin

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien. Photo: Gareth Chaney /Collins Dublin

Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien. Photo: Gareth Chaney /Collins Dublin

The housing committee undertook a six-hour session of scrutiny of the new mica scheme as the Government hopes to pass legislation and have grants in place before the summer.

Groups representing homeowners with mica-affected blocks told the committee foundations of their homes would not be included as part of the grant scheme and the committee is now urging for grants to include the cost of rebuilding foundations.

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Homeowners who receive grants should also not lose a part of their claims if this portion of the grant would “make up the difference in cost between their remediation grant and the full cost of like for like remediation/replacement”.

An appeals board set up as part of the scheme should also be “fully independent” of county and city councils, the Housing Agency and the Department of Housing, according to the committee, to “ensure its decisions have full public confidence”.

The committee also heard from an engineer how there are still “bad apples” within the quarry industry who are still producing mica-affected concrete blocks.


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