The large Mayo contingent passing Liberty Hall on the way to the Custom House. Pic: Paul Reardon
On Friday last, the years of stress, fear and worry experienced by Pyrite and Mica impacted homeowners in Mayo and Donegal culminated in a huge demonstration in Dublin city centre. Here, Martina Hegarty, a member of the North Mayo Pyrite Group, takes us through that momentous day.
“It was such a special occasion for everyone involved and I think it made the whole country sit up and take real notice of our plight. We were a little bit nervous in the week running up to it because we just didn’t know how many people from Mayo would travel. We were pushing it on social media and anywhere we could, but as the week progressed we started to get more and more messages telling us they were going by car or on the train or on the bus with us. A great sense of excitement and determination was building up and we began to realise that something special was happening.
I traveled on the bus from Ballina and the people on board were a cross-section of the supporters who were on the road. We had people from Belmullet, Crossmolina, Ballina, Bonniconlon, Killala and Foxford in the bus, which was great to see.
We left Ballina just after seven and were getting great reports of huge numbers on the roads as we got nearer and nearer Dublin.
As we approached the meeting point at the Garden of Remembrance we were blown away by an absolute sea of buses. I think that was the moment we realised how big the day was going to be and it was amazing to think that so many, many people were standing together to fight for our homes.
All the worry, fear and sleepless nights people had experienced over the months and years could have ground us down but the sense of relief from seeing the lines of buses was something I’ll never forget.
As soon as we stepped off the bus we were nabbed by a photographer from The Mayo News and within a minute we were surrounded by other photographers and politicians.
Green and Red
We had green and red flags and a big banner so all the Mayo crew converged and joined the march down O’Connell Street to The Custom House where the speeches were held. A young boy from Ballina, Rian Doherty, came up to me and asked if he could hold our banner. He was there with his sister Bronagh and dad, Pat, and said he took the day off school to show everyone how important it was to get his home fixed.
There were drums beating and people chanting and excitement building all the time. There was a great sense of togetherness and speeches were made by homeowners from Donegal, Mayo, Sligo and Limerick and various politicians. Barbara Clinton from our North Mayo Pyrite Group spoke on behalf of the Mayo homeowners and did a great job.”
The crowd from Mayo was so big and there were people there I didn’t even realise were affected by pyrite. I met a cousin in the crowd and it was only then I realised he had been impacted.
The crowd was so big that surely the government have to react positively. People power is so important and we has so much support in Dublin. The guards were great. They were completely sound and were totally supportive of us.
It’s not an easy journey we’re on and there’s still an awful long way to go but when you realise there are so many others in the same boat it makes a difference. Even if we do get the 100 percent redress that’s just the financial aspect of it. Everyone still has to move out, knock their home and rebuild. That’s a massive stress on any family and we will have to deal with that in the future. However, Friday was special. We’ll never forget that.”