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25/07/2021

New Cathaoirleach responds to 'widespread' public concerns on mica

Special Council meeting to discuss mica concerns

 Cathaoirleach Jack Murray responds to 'widespread' public concerns on mica

Cathaoirleach Jack Murray responds to 'widespread' public concerns on mica

A special meeting of Donegal County Council has been called to discuss “emerging mica concerns” in the county.

The recently elected Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Cllr Jack Murray has confirmed he has moved to arrange a special sitting of Donegal County Council this Friday, July 9.

“Due to the widespread public concern and having been contacted by numerous public representatives, I moved to call a special sitting of Donegal County Council, solely to discuss the mica scandal.

“This will be an opportunity for all councillors to seek answers to questions raised by their constituents and to voice any concerns they have.

“It is absolutely essential that this issue is kept front and centre of politics in Donegal at all times,” Cllr Murray said.

Speaking to Donegal Live, Independent councillor Frank McBrearty said he had requested the Council meeting in the “public interest”.

Cllr McBrearty has concerns relating to the use of the minerals mica, pyrite and pyrolite in building materials in the Donegal and beyond.

Cllr McBrearty said it was imperative councillors met to discuss a number of issues arising from information put into the public domain by chartered engineer, Dr Ambrose McCloskey.

Interviewed on Today FM's The Last Word (July 1) by Matt Cooper, chartered engineer, Dr Ambrose McCloskey, stated there was not enough peer reviewed literature to say how houses built with products containing mica, pyrite and pyrolite might deteriorate over time.

Dr McCloskey currently has 50 Donegal clients going through the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme.

Dr McCloskey said: 'We are taking a point and time assessment and we are assessing the level of damage we have according to the standards recommended in options 1 to 5, 1 being a total demolition, 5 being an outer leaf replacement.

“The issue with all remedial works, bar number 1 demolition, is no-one can actually say for certain its going to be a long term fix. Options 2, 3, 4,and 5 are going to be leaving Mica blocks behind within the structure.

“Only the non structural blocks, which are not carrying any weight, are being taken away from the house. All the structural blocks are being left behind. The house could actually crumble and get worse. There is not a enough data or evidence to see what they are going to do.

“We know from the test results we are getting, that the inner leaf blocks are significantly weaker at the minute than we would expect them to be.

“It is point and time test and we really have no ideas, as engineers, were they stronger when they were built or are they disintegrating or reducing in strength, which may well continue over time and issues may appear internally.

“I am seeing evidence of this with houses that have taken down the outer leaf and are now seeing cracks internally.

“This has raised concerns amongst some engineers. Engineers are being asked to recommend something here that we have absolutely no ideas long term what it is going to do or how it is going to perform.

“In my opinion homeowners will not get insurance unless their home is a complete new rebuild.”

Cllr McBrearty is seeking clarity on whether Dr McCloskey informed Donegal County Council of his concerns, in an email, in June past. He also wants to know why all of the Council's elected members were not circulated with Dr McCloskey's email.

Cllr McBrearty added: “Any engineer who has recommended remedial works on mica, pyrite or pyrolite homes must be struck off from the list of engineers that are carrying works out on behalf of the victims in this scandal.

“We, the members must demand Donegal County Council stops its unjust conduct towards victims, in trying to force them into remedial works, when it knows the only option with mica or pyrolite is demolition, which will exterminate this virus that has destroyed people's homes and assets due to no fault of their own.

“Councillors must demand Council gives us daily updates, when possible, on the activity of quarries, which have these harmful minerals in their quarry's and products.

“An emergency High Court injunction must be obtained by the Council to close down these suspected quarry's that are producing aggregate.

“Island More in Port Hall, just outside Donegal County Council headquarters in Lifford, is one of these unauthorised developments.

“We must discuss the environmental damages being caused to our County by this terrible scandal to date and we must debate the failure of the Expert Panel Report to properly investigate this whole scandal. we must show the public that we are serious about fixing their nightmare and going through each line of a failed report and exposing their failure's is one way to start the road to justice.”

The Raphoe councillor said all councillors must show the public there will be “transparency in public office at all times, not just when it suits some members”.

Concluding he said: “Donegal County Council's Executive must give councillors a “full presentation of how it is processing applications for redress”.

He added: “We must be told how the Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme staff are coming to their conclusions.

“We also need and a full explanation on what directions are being given to them by the Department and the Council Executive.”

Cllr Frank McBrearty

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