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Pyrite fallout chokes Ballina


SHOW OF SUPPORT Supporting the North Mayo Pyrite Protest on the Foxford Road, Ballina on Saturday were, from left: Josephine Moran, Noelie Curry, Marion Mattimoe, Cllr Neil Cruise, Jimmy Langan and Alan Dillon, TD.

Ballina’s rental crisis ‘an utter disgrace’

Michael Gallagher

The pyrite catastrophe that left hundreds of Mayo families living in crumbling homes has now left Ballina facing a rental crisis of epic proportions, according to local councillor Mark Duffy.
As of yesterday (Monday) there was just one home available to rent in the town on the Moy, and Cllr Duffy believes the situation is quickly running out of control.
A €20 million remediation scheme for defective building materials has come into effect, but protestors on Saturday said this isn’t sufficient, as the scheme doesn’t cover all the costs associated with rebuilding the damaged homes.
In turn, the scheme has also caused chaos in the rental market according to Cllr Duffy.
“The scheme is actually amplifying the pressure on housing within the town. The redress scheme can only be availed of if the owner of the property is actually living in the house.  Therefore, many people who had houses on the rental market have had to displace tenants and move into these pyrite-impacted houses themselves.
“This has resulted in a large number of homes coming off the rental market on top of all the other problems already impacting the provision of housing in the town,” he added, before outlining the starkness of the situation.

Families displaced
“There is a huge demand for housing in the town anyway, with 500 families on the social housing list – and that’s only the tip of the iceberg. On top of that, we’ll soon have hundreds of families who will be displaced in the pyrite-rebuilding process and the growing demand from people who want to move into the town for remote working.
“Things are so bad now that one of the local industries in Ballina is expanding and the numerous people coming to work there have had to rent houses as far away as Castlebar and Claremorris. This is an utter disgrace and needs to be addressed urgently,” the Independent councillor added.
On Saturday last, hundreds of families stood along the five entry roads to the town protesting at the shortfall in funding for the pyrite remediation works on properties impacted by defective blocks.
The peaceful nature of the protest couldn’t hide the anger of participants as demonstrated by the recent creation of the North Mayo Pyrite Group (NMPG), which has signed up 600 concerned members in a very short time.
The NMPG is angry that a 90 percent grant limit for rebuilding, capped at €275,000, has been imposed. That approach does not take into account other expenses, such as storage of furniture and kitchens, or the cost of residing elsewhere in the interim – if the homeowners can find anywhere available.

Challenges on all fronts
Cllr Duffy is adamant that these anomalies must be addressed and says he’s doing everything possible to alleviate the challenges faced by those affected.
“I’ve been working with Independent senator Victor Boyhan, who sits on the Joint Oireachtas Committee for Housing. He consistently highlights the situation there as I do in Mayo County Council, where I’ve called on the SEAI (Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland) to bring in a separate scheme for these homeowners.
“I’m again publicly calling for the creation of systems and schemes that offer full redress to homeowners and offers them full incentives in terms of sustainable rebuilds. It’s also very important that financial institutions offer mortgage relief during the rebuilding process as these people deal with challenges on all fronts,” he concluded.