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Council asked to show some humanity to pyrite households

News

Anton McNulty

Mayo County Council officials were urged to look sympathetically at the appeals made by 20 families looking to avail of the pyrite compensation scheme.
Earlier this summer, Mayo County Council rejected applications by 20 families in the Ballina region to avail of the Defective Concrete Blocks Scheme. The rejection came despite tests confirming the presence of the mineral pyrite in the blocks of their homes.
At the time, Mayo County Council stated that the absence of ‘pattern cracking’ in the homes meant that they did not meet the criteria to avail of the scheme. However, the families were allowed to appeal the decision.
The appeals have since been made. The matter was raised at last Monday’s monthly meeting of Mayo County Council, where councillors urged officials to approve the appeal applications.
Independent councillor Mark Duffy said that the presence of pyrite in some of these houses was at a critical level and the situation was unfair on these families.
“I visited many of these homes … one in particular had eight tests taken, and five came away with critical levels of pyrite, and the other three had high levels. There was cracking right throughout the house, and yet they were refused off the scheme.
“They are now in a situation where they paid €5,000 for a test and live in a home where they cannot improve or sell or insure. They are on the hook for €5,000; some of [the homeowners] had to borrow to pay for it. I met with some of the families, and the timing was very unfair.
“I want to reiterate the dissatisfaction and the pain this has caused so many families in the north Mayo area who are affected by this. The impact on mental health is grave and they should not have been rejected,” he said.

Harrowing stories
Foxford-based Fine Gael councillor Neil Cruise told the meeting that the council needed to show some humanity to the families affected by pyrite.
“The stories are harrowing. I spoke to a lady who is known to me with a husband and two young kids who are going to be homeless in a few weeks due to the pyrite issue because their houses are crumbling that fast. She was visibly upset, and since then I have thought of her and all of these guys whose houses are crumbling. It is harrowing.
“We need to do more for these people if only for the humanity factor. These people are our citizens, and we are supposed to be representing them,” he said.
Erris councillor Gerry Coyle added that people affected by pyrite have been put through years of misery and it is affecting their health and the health of their families.
Director of Services Tom Gilligan replied that the council understood the trauma that the families are going through and said Mayo County Council did not want to add to their stress.
“It is a tragedy for an homeowner who is caught up in relation to this, and of course our sympathy and assistance is with all these homeowners. There were 20 applications that we deemed not eligible. It is not that they were refused, but in our opinion at this moment in time there was no pattern cracking present in the block.
“Nineteen of those applicants have appealed and inspections have finished and the appeals committee will deliberate and make recommendations. We don’t want to add to anyone’s stress. We know it’s a traumatic time for anyone and I understand the stress and trauma people are under,” he said.

 

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