Submission on possible inclusion of Clare in pyrite scheme

Clare Independent T.D. Michael McNamara says the Government has commenced a process of engagement with Clare County Council over the potential extension of the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme to affected homes in Clare.

The issue was originally raised in the Dáil Éireann by Deputy McNamara who said he had been contacted by homeowners of the estimated 35 homes across Clare which have experienced significant cracking of external walls.

Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Deputy Darragh O’Brien, announced a new defective concrete blocks scheme for Mayo and Donegal in August. The scheme offers five remedial options. Separate grant limits apply to each option, ranging from €247,500 for the complete demolition and rebuilding of a dwelling to €49,500 for the demolition and rebuilding of the outer leaf of affected walls only. Funding is subject to option limits or 90% of the eligible works, whichever is the lesser.

“Clare County Council has confirmed to me that the Department has requested a submission from Clare County Council to justify any scheme extension,” explained Deputy McNamara. “Clare County Council will shortly commence the process of procuring a consultant engineer to assist with the overall submission. Ultimately, the Council must now gather and collate any relevant data and develop a profile of the likely extent of the problem within Clare. The Department also require the local authority to include in its submission actual test data from 5 private properties potentially affected.”

Deputy McNamara continued, “In Clare, a number of houses have been found to be essentially crumbling, without exaggerating the matter, as a result of defective concrete blocks. Owners have had engineers examine the dwellings and it has been found that it is as a result of pyrite in the concrete.”

“One manufacturer of concrete blocks in the Mid-West links all of those buildings. It is an issue which goes beyond Clare. I understand 35 people are involved in an action group and approximately 33 houses have been identified in Clare. Unfortunately, there is a belief that the problem extends outside of Clare to other areas in the Mid-West because it is a result of concrete blocks from one particular manufacturer.

“If the Government saw fit to fund a scheme like this in respect of Mayo and Donegal, which I welcome, I see no reason whatsoever my constituents and any other constituents in the country who suffer from exactly the same problem should not be treated in exactly the same way by the Government. It is a matter of basic equality. I welcome the Department’s decision to request Clare County Council to put forward a case that could lead to the scheme being extended to Clare.”

Responding to Deputy McNamara in the Dáil in September, Minister of State Malcolm Noonan commented, “There is an opportunity for Clare County Council to take the lead and, first, demonstrate that the issues in Clare are, in fact, due to the presence of excessive levels of deleterious materials, whether mica or pyrite, in the aggregate used to manufacture the concrete blocks. Second, the council should quantify the extent of the problem in the area.”

“Working within this framework, Clare County Council may be able to provide the evidential data necessary for the consideration of any extension of the scheme, which would be helpful to the Department in its deliberations. The Department will continue – I give a commitment to that – working with Clare County Council in this regard to, I hope, reach a satisfactory conclusion,” concluded the Minister of State.