Calls for resignation of Mica Redress Committee Chairperson
An at times fractious meeting of Donegal County Council's Mica Redress Committee heard a call for it's Chairperson, Councillor Martin McDermott (Fianna Fáil), to resign immediately.
Sparked by An Taoiseach Micheál Martin's visit to Donegal on Thursday, the call came from Cllr Frank McBrearty (Independent).
Cllr McBrearty demanded Cllr McDermott step down as Chairperson of the Mica Redress Committee and as a Donegal County Councillor.
Speaking at Friday's online meeting, the Lifford - Stranorlar Municipal District Councillor added: "Take your other Fianna Fáil councillors, pack your bags and leave Donegal County Council because you don't deserve to represent the people of Donegal and in particular the people with mica, thousands of them".
Raising a point of order during a discussion of the previous minutes, Cllr McBrearty said the Mica Redress Committee had been put to the forefront of dealing with the mica issue, which was completely at odds with how An Taoiseach's visit had been conducted.
The Raphoe Councillor said: “You had An Taoiseach coming down here and visiting a home 500 yards across the fields from my house. I couldn't get one councillor from the Fianna Fáil party on the phone yesterday. They all had their phones off, everyone of them. An Garda Síochána blocked the road, all the junctions in Raphoe, and neighbours of mine were complaining about it today because it gave the area a bad name. People thought there was a security alert in the area.
“What was An Taoiseach frightened off, first of all, because the people of Donegal are dignified? All they want to do is tell their story.
“The issue here is this, the Mica Redress Committee members are supposed to be the people on Donegal County Council dedicated to dealing with the mica issue, on behalf of the other members of the Council. However, the fact is, you [Cllr McDermott] didn't notify any of us and this is not the first time you have had these secret meetings and the Mica Action Group along with you.
“The word I am using is transparency. There is no transparency here because you are not sharing the information, including the discussions happening at Department level or the discussions with An Taoiseach. I am very disappointed with John McLaughlin [Donegal County Council CEO] and Joe Peoples [Donegal County Council Director of Housing], who were also at that meeting yesterday and did not pick up the phone to tell the rest of the members of Donegal County Council. We are technically Directors of the Council. We should have been told there was a meeting with An Taoiseach and the rest of the Fianna Fáil party,” said Cllr McBrearty.
Cllr McBrearty then requested Cllr McDermott step down as Chairperson of the Mica Redress Committee and as a councillor on Donegal County Council.
Cllr McBrearty asserted the issue was going to cost billions of euro.
He added: "The Lifford – Stranorlar area, which An Taoiseach visited yesterday, is one he knows very well from the considerable documentation that is on his desk in Dublin, concerning my family and many other families that were wronged in this county.
"Do the decent thing now, Cllr McDermott, because your party has serious questions to answer in this [mica] scandal.
"Homes containing mica have been sold to Donegal County Council. Donegal County Council is also doing an investigation into a quarry that has been selling mica aggregate, to make mica blocks for 25 years and in those 25 years Donegal County Council never did a thing to that quarry.
“The Council can't investigate themselves like the Gardaí did back in 1996. How can you investigate yourself? This is where we need a Public Inquiry," said Cllr McBrearty.
Cllr McBrearty confirmed he had written to all Opposition parties and TDs and asked them to put a mica motion in Dáil Éireann.
He said: "My motion is this: 'We, the opposition parties and TDs, move the following in the public interest, that the Government amends the current 90% - 10% Mica Defective Concrete Block Redress Scheme and makes the Scheme 100%, with no cap or hidden costs and that all properties affected with mica and pyrite be allowed to apply for redress and that this Government establish a full independent Judicial Tribunal of Inquiry into this horrendous scandal.' I have had indication today the Opposition are going to put down this motion.
"I will expose this corruption once and for all. You only have to look at the Mahon Tribunal. The evidence of Tom Gilmartin, the whistleblower, made damning allegations against the Fianna Fáil party, which lead to the falling of a Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern. It put him out of politics. There are going to be a lot more than Taoiseach's heads will roll over mica.
"There will have to be transparency in this Mica Redress Committee and anything that is going on, every single member of this Committee needs to be involved in it.
"I will bring my lawyers and my legal team into this if transparency is not put in place for the members who are being ignored by you and your party Cllr McDermott, who are not being informed of all these little secret meeting you are having, trying to delay the ultimate which is a Public Inquiry, compensation for all of the families, and the holding to account the people responsible for this. The buck stops at public office and public office means that the legislators, Government, are responsible for allowing this to happen and continuing to allow this to happen," said Cllr McBrearty.
Cllr McBrearty confirmed he had also written to Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, two weeks ago, seeking a special meeting to discuss the Council purchase of five houses in Buncrana.
"The houses cost €600,000," said Cllr McBrearty, "and they all have mica.
"Transparency is the key to this. There is nowhere to hide anymore. You can't hide.
"Wind Farms have been built with mica products, bridges have been built with mica products, footpaths have been built with mica products, every piece of infrastructure in this county has been supplied by Cassidy's and this Council has done nothing about it," concluded Cllr McBrearty.
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