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Council expect increase in pyrite scheme applications following review


‘WE WANT THE BEST POSSIBLE OUTCOME’ Kevin Kelly, Chief Executive, MCC.

Special council meeting discusses pyrite crisis in Mayo

Anton McNulty

THE Chief Executive of Mayo County Council believes the local authority will require additional resources to process applications if there are improvements to the Defective Concrete Blocks Scheme.
The report of the Working Group on the Defective Concrete Blocks Scheme is currently before the Minister for Housing for consideration with calls for the introduction of a 100 percent redress scheme for all affected homeowners.
A special meeting of Mayo County Council was called yesterday (Monday) to discuss the pyrite crisis with many councillors calling for a 100 percent redress scheme, as well as more support for affected families. A number stated they will travel to Dublin to support the affected homeowners at a national demonstration this Friday.
At present there are 110 applications to the current scheme in Mayo but the meeting was informed that many homeowners are waiting to see if there will be an improved scheme before making an application.
Chief Executive of Mayo County Council, Kevin Kelly told the meeting that if there is an improvement to the scheme the council will need much more resources to administer the scheme.
“We will have to implement whatever is decided by government but if the scheme is modified there will more than likely be an significant increase in the number of applications. If dealing with the applications remains within local government it will require additional resources and we will seek the resources to ensure we deal with the applications as quickly as possible,” he said.
Earlier this year, Mayo County Council were criticised for refusing up to 20 homeowners who applied for the scheme and it emerged last week that the 19 homeowners who appealed  were granted entry to the scheme.

Director of Services Tom Gilligan defended the council’s original decision but accepted the ruling of the appeal board. He added that they appreciate the trauma homeowners affected by pyrite go through and they will show compassion to applicants.
“I can’t imagine a situation being any more stressful dealing with a situation like this. To see what is happening to their homes in front of their eyes is without doubt one of the most difficult thing to deal with. We are very understanding and we are working with homeowners to find a solution,” he said.
Mr Kelly reiterated that the council wanted to implement the scheme.
“We were given a scheme from a national level and we had to implement. We share with the members the desire for the best possible outcome for the affected residents and the simplest and straight forward scheme to be implemented to ensure the trauma is less than possible,” he said.
Foxford councillor Neil Cruise, who requested the meeting to discuss the crisis, made a number of recommendations which he wants forwarded to the Minister. He feels these will help affected homeowners. As well as a 100 percent redress scheme, he said that applicants should not have to apply for planning permission for a rebuilt home, be exempt on VAT payment on materials and avail of SEAI grants for the rebuild. He also suggested that a grant for €50,000 should be available to upgrade vacant housing to increase the number of rental accommodation available.
Erris based councillor Gerry Coyle paid tribute to the families who first highlighted the problem in Erris saying they were ‘cold shouldered’ when they first raised the complaints. He was also critical of the quarry who supplied the defective blocks and the insurance companies and banks who ‘ran a mile’ from the problem.