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Bill for Pyrite repairs battle could hit €20m

THE "vast resources" being spent on a legal battle between two groups of companies over damage to hundreds of houses from allegedly defective construction material would be better spent repairing the homes, the High Court has been told.

Some 400 homes on three estates in north Dublin are allegedly affected, with one lawyer estimating the repair bill for his 175 clients at some €17.5 million.

Cracks and swelling have appeared in the houses as a result of allegedly defective "pyrite" infill used in their construction, it is claimed.

The claims were made yesterday during an application by some homeowners to allow their actions against the builders of the houses to go ahead, notwithstanding a separate legal battle between the builders and the suppliers of the material.

Companies in the Menolly Homes group have brought proceedings seeking indemnity against Irish Asphalt Limited (IAL) and several companies in the Lagan group as a result of defects in houses at Drynam in Swords, Myrtle in Balgriffin, and and Beaupark in Baldoyle.

The Menolly/Lagan action has incurred costs of several million to date and is expected to run for many more months.

Judgment will then have to be delivered after which an appeal could be brought, a process which that last several years. The final legal bill is likely to be well over €20m.

Paul Gardiner, for 175 homeowners, told the court yesterday they were very concerned about where the money is going to come from to repair the houses because the Menolly and Lagan sides were using vast resources to fight each other.

Paul Burns, representing other homeowners, said their lives were "in limbo". Some relationships had broken down but the parties were still bound together by a defective house asset "like an anchor around their necks".

Brian O'Moore, for Menolly, said it was very conscious of the homeowners' plight but it was in their interest to have this case conclude first and to have the issues against Lagan resolved. Hugh O'Neill, for the Lagan defendants, said it was their case the "vast majority" of defects were of "no significance whatever".

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan said he will rule next Tuesday on whether to allow a number of test actions by the homeowners to proceed parallel to the Menolly/Lagan proceedings.