Not since a victorious Donegal hoisted aloft the Sam Maguire in Croke Park in 2012 has there been such an exodus from The Hills.
The bus was a mixture of high spirits, possibly post-covid, and quieter, more serious conversations about how Mica was affecting each and every home.
A convoy of coaches and cars left the forgotten-no-longer County at dawn yesterday and a crowd of more than 10,000 massed on Dáil Éireann, sitting in Dublin's Convention Centre, where Kerry TD, Michael Healy-Rea, said the Government would "ignore Donegal at it's peril".
Speaking to the Inish Times, '100 Percent Redress No Less' campaigner, Paddy Diver thanked the people of Donegal for coming up to Dublin in such fantastic numbers.
“If they don't listen this time, coming into the summer recess, we'll be back again at the end of September.
“We're coming here with our heads held high and we are going to leave with our heads held high.
“My message for the politicians inside there in the Convention Centre is, 'fix this problem before we are shamed all over Europe.
“Our mental health can't take it anymore and before there is a tragedy, which is just waiting to happen.
"Fix this [mica] problem. Do not be going in for a summer recess. Your job is to fix this here, you caused it.
“We [mica-affected homeowners] are at the bottom of the ladder of the people involved. So, sort it out,” he said.
Paddy added that if An Taoiseach Micheál Martin had any respect for the people of Donegal, he would take a letter from a delegation from the campaign.
“The buck stops with him.”
Speaking after coming off the platform, Cllr Martin McDermott, who chairs Donegal County Council's Mica Redress Committee said he was feeling "very proud".
He said: “I am very, very proud of the people of Inishowen and Donegal. Just look around, how people have come together. It is just unbelievable. I am very proud today to be from Donegal.
“We have to get a scheme that works. We have to get 100 percent redress. We are no different than anybody else. We have to get it and today makes a big statement to all the political leaders in Ireland, not just Donegal, Ireland, that we're not going to give up. We have no intentions of going away.
“We deserve the same treatment as everybody else. We pay our taxes.
“I was asked the question this morning by one of the national media outlets, 'Why should the State, why should the taxpayer pay for fixing houses in Donegal?' I answered, ' Why should we pay for motorways up in Dublin?'
"We don't have the infrastructure Dublin has. We have houses crumbling down. We deserve to be paid through the tax payer.”
Cllr McDermott added he thought the chances of obtaining 100 percent redress were good.
“I think, for the first time the Government, to be fair to Minister McConalogue, realises what's going on in Donegal.
“We have the ear of Micheál Martin. I had a good conversation with him last Friday. I think he does realise the current scheme doesn't work and people are out substantial amounts of money.
“I think the Government will do everything in its power to make this happen and we will do everything in our power to make it happen in Donegal as well,” concluded Cllr McDermott.
Ann Owens , co-founder of the Mica Action Group and 100% Redress No Less, said the atmosphere outside the Convention Centre was "absolutely intoxicating".
She said: “People power is a wonderful thing and I have never experienced, so close to me before, such support.
“I am sure not everybody here has a Mica house but people have come out to support their families, their friends, their community, for something not one person that built a Mica house is to blame.
“I just think this is a wonderful show of support and unity and also really it is an anti-corruption march.
“We are hoping to achieve 100% Redress No Less.
“We are hoping to see the manufacturers of the concrete blocks pay the price, and we are hoping to see Donegal County Council and the Government look into their ineptitude and into their lack of enforcement, regulation and practices, which, if used properly, this would not be happening today and they would be saving the taxpayer €1 billion and saving us a lot of strife and hurt and anxiety, for the last 10 years.”
PHOTOS: Liam Hirrell
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