10 Aug 2022

Dáil debate on defective blocks legislation is ‘a total farce’ says Donegal TD

'We know, Minister, that you have decided to change nothing in relation to the concerns of people and residents'

Dáil debate on defective blocks legislation is ‘a total farce’ says Donegal TD

Independent TD , Thomas Pringle

Independent TD for Donegal, Thomas Pringle, condemned the Government for failing to listen to mica-affected homeowners, as he called Thursday’s debate on defective block legislation “a total farce”.

Addressing the Dáil on Thursday, Deputy Pringle certainly made his feelings known.

“I actually think this is a waste of time what we’re doing here today, because the deadline has passed for amendments. So you’re not listening to what we have to say.”

“I’m disgusted at what the Minister fervently presents to us today as a panacea to the problems faced by my constituents in Donegal and other affected counties to the problem of defective blocks in their homes. It clearly isn’t.”

The deputy was speaking on the Remediation of Dwellings Damaged by the Use of Defective Concrete Blocks Bill 2022.

He added: “I’m disgusted the way that this bill confirms, that despite what the Taoiseach has presented in this house, called extensive consultation with homeowners, their concerns have not been addressed and not been listened to.”

He said department officials sat in meetings with affected homeowners for the last six months, “pretending to listen to them, and then actually ignored them”.

The Killybegs-based deputy said that he had told Donegal homeowners that he did not believe the minister or department had any intention of providing 100% redress, “and sadly it was shown here today”.

“It’s not just the content of the bill presented here for second stage. It’s the fact that the Government is hell-bent on ramming it through committee and remaining stages in two hours next week.

“It means this debate here today is a total farce. It has no point in terms of the legislative principles of this House, as the deadline for the submission of amendments had passed prior to the start of this debate,” he said.

The deputy added that he and others had worked tirelessly over this past week to draft amendments, and well over 150 amendments were submitted for the Thursday morning deadline.

“They were written to address the concerns of the homeowners and deal with obvious flaws in the bill as presented.” However, the Bills Office confirmed earlier that no Government amendments had been submitted, he said.

“So, we know, Minister, that you have decided already to change nothing in relation to the concerns of people and residents,” the deputy said. He said he expected many opposition amendments to be ruled out of order for being a cost to the State, and said the kind of amendments needed to fix the bill can only be brought forward by a member of Government.

The deputy also put to the minister more than a dozen questions on specifics in the bill.

In closing, Deputy Pringle asked: “Do you intend to consider any of the opposition amendments, seeing as you failed to table any yourself, or are you planning to vote them all down? Will you sit down with opposition spokespersons and homeowners on Monday for one last time to go through the amendments and decide what you will accept?”

“I’ve little faith left in your government. Less this week than last, and that was a low bar at that stage. But I think it’s a mean-spirited thing that has been done here today in relation to this legislation.

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