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‘This is no way to live’


CONSTANT BATTLE Peter Hefferon outside his home in Muing on the Mullet peninsula.

Belmullet family worry Pyrite home will fall in on top of them

Michael Gallagher

He left Belmullet to earn the money to build a life, now he sits in his house every night wondering if the windows will explode and shower his family in glass.
Peter Hefferon has experienced many things in life, but the sight of his home crumbling around him is beyond anything he ever imagined. The man from the picturesque village of Muing and his family live in a house where defective blocks have transformed a once proud family home into a place where fear and frustration reign supreme.
“We’re here and we don’t know whether the roof will come down on top of us or the windows will burst in on top of us. It’s a terrible way to live. We have three young kids here and my older son moved out because he couldn’t put up with the wind blowing through the walls upstairs,” Peter told The Mayo News.
It’s hard to know where to start when describing the frustration, fear and hardship experienced in the Hefferon household. As a teenager, Peter emigrated to earn money to build his dream home. In 2004 that home was constructed. A few years later cracks began to appear in the walls. The cracks were filled and painted over as they were said to be ‘settling cracks.’ The cracks reappeared and continually got bigger. Tests confirmed the presence of Pyrite in the blocks. Peter looked for compensation from the block manufacturers, but their insurance company had gone to the wall during the economic crash. The house flooded because the moving walls cracked the water pipes and the insurance company refused liability because of the Pyrite in the blocks.

Fighting on
This is only a sample of the horrors experienced by the hard-working family in Muing on the Mullet Peninsula and one wonders where they find the courage to fight on.
“There are days when you think things can’t get any worse and then the wall cracks over the bath and the tiles fall off or the window bursts because of the pressure on the frames or the chimney breast cracks and we cannot put down a fire because the flame would get through the crack and burn the house. Now we’re sick because of the damp and the mold on the walls and around the windows. This is no way to live,” Peter continued.
“I’ve had to get shutters made and put over the windows because they’re all either falling out or being crushed by the movement of the walls. Can those politicians in Dublin imagine for a minute what it’s like to live like this? They do not. They don’t care about people like us and our kids.”
Peter and many more throughout Mayo and Donegal are campaigning for full redress in order to rebuild homes that once were their pride and joy but are now crumbling wrecks. However, even 100 percent compensation won’t come anywhere near what’s actually required according to Hefferon.
“What about the beautiful asphalt drive I’ve put around the house or all the walls in the garden that are falling apart and where will we store everything and where will we live for a year or two? These are all questions that need to be answered. We don’t want to be going around like this, begging for money from the government. We just want to live our lives in our own homes – safe and sound and happy.”

Ministers meeting
Representatives of the Mayo homeowners impacted by the Pyrite scandal will meet with Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien this week. They will form part of a group who will review the current compensation scheme and suggest changes by the end of July.