Report finds thousands of Donegal homes could be affected by Mica blocks

Department to consider what further actions may be required

Staff Reporter

Reporter:

Staff Reporter

Donegal Mica group to meet with Minister on Monday morning

The report on Mica-affected homes in Donegal has been published today.
The Expert Panel on Concrete Blocks found that there is likely to be approximately 1,200 dwellings affected in Donegal although there may be as many as 4,800 dwellings potentially affected, as well as 541 social housing units.
The panel's report concludes that the nature of the problem is manifested primarily by the disintegration of the concrete blocks used in the construction of the affected dwellings in counties Donegal and Mayo. This, in turn, has resulted in the appearance of a particular pattern of cracking in the external render of these dwellings. The dwellings are single storey, dormer and two-storey with both housing estates and one-off rural types constructed by contract and by self-build affected. On the basis of the information received, the Panel is of the view that the reason for the widespread pattern cracking in the affected dwellings is primarily due to excessive amounts of materials in the aggregate used to manufacture the concrete blocks which gave rise to deleterious effects. The material in County Donegal was primarily muscovite mica while in County Mayo it was primarily reactive pyrite.

This, in turn, has resulted in the appearance of a particular pattern of cracking in the external render of these dwellings. The dwellings are single storey, dormer and two-storey with both housing estates and one-off rural types constructed by contract and by self-build affected.

The panel said the reason for the widespread pattern cracking in the affected dwellings is primarily due to excessive amounts of materials in the aggregate used to manufacture the concrete blocks which gave rise to damaging effects. The material in County Donegal was primarily muscovite mica while in County Mayo it was primarily reactive pyrite.
In many of the affected dwellings, the problems appear to have been exacerbated by their location in geographic areas of severe exposure and the ingress of moisture into the concrete blocks; the problems were possibly accelerated by the extreme weather conditions arising in the austere winters of 2009 and 2010 in particular.
The Minister of State for Housing and Urban Renewal, Damien English, said: “There are eight recommendations contained in this report and my Department will be taking action immediately to implement recommendations 1 and 2 as priorities, and will be in contact with relevant bodies shortly. In addition and in light of the information contained in the report, I have asked my Department to consider what further actions may be required to assist the parties directly involved in reaching a satisfactory resolution to the problems that have emerged in the two counties”.
Reacting to the report, Donegal TD and Minister of State Joe McHugh said the report makes a number of recommendations and recognises hundreds of homeowners here in the county were affected through no fault of their own.
He said his first thoughts today are with the families who have been so badly affected and he paid tribute to their courage and perseverance, especially those involved in the Mica Action Group.
“I welcome the fact that the report has now been published,” said Minister McHugh.
“I will now push within Government for a Redress Scheme for affected homeowners so that they can now begin to put their homes and lives back together again.
“It is clear from the recommendations that there were deficiencies in the way building was regulated at the time and more robust procedures are recommended going forward.
Deputy Thomas Pringle called on Minister English to establish a redress scheme for affected homeowners in Donegal without further delay following the publication of the report.
He said: “Not only was this report long overdue with needless delays, the Minister has failed to commit to any meaningful measures following the publication of this Report. He has only committed to implementing 2 out of the 8 recommendations in the near future which in my opinion is not good enough considering the scale of the Mica problem reaching nearly 5,000 homes in Donegal alone.
“Homeowners affected by Mica need more than the recommendations set out by the Report. They need access to a Redress Scheme to ensure that remedial measures are carried out in a cost-effective and timely manner. So far the Minister has not indicated anything of this kind and so I am calling on him to meet with the action groups to begin the Redress process without delay.”