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25/07/2021

Donegal Co Council urged to take emergency High Court action over mica

Cllr Frank McBrearty Jnr demands answers from local authority

Donegal Co Council urged to take emergency High Court action over mica

Cllr Frank McBrearty

Hard hitting questions about mica, pyrite and pyrrhotite affected concrete building blocks for Donegal County Council and Inishowen block manufacturers, Cassidy Brothers, dominated proceedings at today's meeting of Lifford-Stranorlar Municipal District

Independent Raphoe-based councillor, Frank McBrearty Jnr used the opportunity to raise his concerns under different headings on the meeting's agenda.

He even questioned the wisdom of the council holding its annual general meeting in the council-owned Aura Leisure Centre in Letterkenny tomorrow, Wednesday, in the light of claims the building was affected by mica blocks.

The council stated in May it had carried out an initial examination on cracks to the rear of the building but contended these did not appear to be mica related but that the issue was being followed up for repair.

Over the three hours of today's meeting, Cllr McBrearty questioned mica-pyrite-pyrrhotite connections in roads and transportation, community development, planning services, economic development, information systems, emergency services, housing, corporate affairs and environmental services.

He pulled no punches when it came to delivering his list of demands to the council officials

These included:

- How many public properties in the Lifford-Stranorlar MD have been built using Cassidy Bros concrete blocks or had any other concrete product supplied by them for things such as footpaths, bridges and culverts?

- Had any buildings the council had an involvement such as the Finn Valley Leisure Centre, Army Barracks Lifford, The Base, Stranorlar and all school projects past and present with been built using any of their products?

- A full list from the council's planning section of properties that may have used Cassidy products

- Whether the under construction new St Mary's NS in Stranorlar had concrete supplied to it from the same company and if so the work had to be stopped immediately

- Whether Cassidy product had been supplied to build the extension at Deele College, Raphoe

- A list of social houses, turnkey developments bought by the council as well as council-built homes and what suppliers were used to supply concrete, concrete blocks or any other concrete products.

- A list of independent housing organisations supplying social housing for council registered citizens for social housing

- The number of citizens that the council had supplied to what he claimed was the mica affected Respond housing association building in Raphoe

- A call for council tenants not to pay their rent if their homes are mica, pyrite or pyrolite affected

- A list of the DFI funds supplied to community groups and sporting groups that have built infrastructure such as club houses, walls or any other works that could have mica/pyrite. such as GAA, soccer, boxing clubs, athletic clubs etc.

- An investigation into whether the new Finn Harps stadium work so that there is no doubt that any concrete, concrete blocks or any other concrete product supplied by Cassidy are mica and pyrite tested and shown to be virus free

- A list of all septic tanks built using Cassidy's blocks be supplied and if these are identified by the council as being built by Cassidy blocks, the council demands that the Department of the Environment immediately provide funding for their reconstruction, at no cost to homeowners. The same should apply to SI homes owned by council

- The planning authority to supply all documentation on its dealing with Cassidy Bros company over the years

- The halting of quarrying and extraction from Islandmore island just outside Lifford on the River Foyle and an emergency injunction be made to the High Court immediately in the public interest to stop the developer and Cassidy Bros from taking hundreds of lorry loads of aggregate from a designated area of conservation.

- How many houses have been sold by the council under the Tenant's Purchase Scheme with mica and pyrite and that the council refunds these former tenants as soon as they identify any of these homes with mica or pyrite.

- A full refund from Donegal County Council of property taxes paid by mica and pyrite home owners immediately and exemption from property tax going forward until the Government rebuilds these properties

- That commercial rates paid by mica and pyrite property owners be refunded and exemptions made going forward until the Government rebuilds these properties

MD cathaoirleach, Cllr Gerry Crawford said council housing tenants in their district should be contacted and the council itself should be proactive easing their concerns if they had fears over mica or pyrite.

In relation to the demand for High Court action, the council's director of housing, corporate and cultural services, Joe Peoples, said it was very clear that councillors wanted an emergency injunction to be taken and he would relay this to the council's director of planning immediately after their meeting and ask him to follow it up.

"That's as much as I can do," he said.

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