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01/08/2021

Mica issues to be high on agenda of tomorrow's Donegal Co Council meeting

Several key motions and questions dominate busy agenda

Mica issues to be high on agenda of tomorrow's Donegal Co Council meeting

Mica motions and questions dominate tomorrow's council agenda

Mica and its effects on Donegal County Council's housing stock and associated matters are set to dominate tomorrow's online meeting of the full council.

Several councillors have tabled motions and questions relating asking it to quantify the number of its houses and properties affected, the names of those who met the Mica defective block scheme Export Panel, its need to provide emergency accommodation, its role in testing for mica, obtaining counselling services for those affected by mica, the provision of a new lab to test for mica, the number of applicants for remedial works, location and number of houses identified and when work would commence.

However before this is reached the councillors will be asked under finance matters to consider whether they wish to pass a resolution to vary the Local Property Tax in County Donegal in respect of 2022 which will be proposed later in the meeting by Cllr Frank McBrearty Jnr (Ind).

Councillors will also be circulated with the legal advice on an emergency motion in relation to the controversial purchase of five houses in Buncrana and a report on the same.

They will also receive a second legal opinion in relation to the council putting protocols in place to ensure that it does not purchase any products from quarries that are known to have defective materials.

Motions and Questions

Cllr McBrearty Jnr has the first motion on the agenda dealing with this.

It called for support of the members for the council to immediately stop the collection of the Local Property Tax (LPT) from the victims that have been destroyed by mica, pyrite and pyrrhotite and that they refund all monies back to the victims since the establishment of the Local Property Tax.

He also called for the council to immediately halt its collection of commercial rates from property and business owners that have been destroyed by Mica, Pyrite and Pyrrhotite and that all commercial rates be refunded to these victims from the date of completion of their properties when they became commercially rateable.

He requests that this motion be circulated to all Local authorities, especially Mayo, Sligo, Clare and Galway.

Next on the agenda is another independent councillor, Cllr Micheál Choilm Mac Giolla Easbuig.

He asked that a section be set up in the council to take on the role of testing of homes and properties for the presence of Mica at no cost to the homeowner or property owner.

Cllr John Seamais O'Fearraigh (SF) continues the trend as he asks the council to write to the Minister for Housing to provide funding for emergency accommodation in each Municipal District.

Emergency Funding

Inishowen councillor and chairman of the council's Mica Redress Committee, Cllr Martin McDermott (FF) has a similar motion for tomorrow's meeting when he calls on the council to urgently apply to the Minister for Housing, Darragh O'Brian for emergency funding to build temporary accommodation in different areas in the county.

Cllr Michael McBride (Ind) follows up on calls he made at the special mica and Letterkenny-Milford Municipal District meetings when he calls for the council to request a meeting with the HSE to ensure that a fully resourced counselling service is in place in Donegal to deal with individuals/families suffering stress from the blight of mica.

A number of councillors also contribute to the mica, pyrite and pyrrhotite situations through a number of questions on the agenda too.

Clr Gary Doherty (SF) asks if the council has an estimate of the number of private rented properties of which tenants are in receipt of HAP which may be affected by mica and if the council could work to establish a mica testing laboratory within the county, either in-house in Donegal County Council or working with their partners in the Letterkenny Institute of Technology.

Cllr Gerry Crawford (FF) asks if the council proposes to conclusively determine the number of council-owned homes affected by mica countywide,

Cllr McBrearty Jnr comes back in again with two questions that will also add to the debate n the day

He asks how many properties the council bought or built since 1995 up to the present date and how many may have mica, pyrite and pyrrhotite. He says the answers should cover homes, apartments, SI homes, Turnkey developments and council built properties etc.

He also asks what are the numbers being rented by council through the 10-years leasing scheme, the 5-year RAS scheme, HAP or any other rental scheme that may also have mica, pyrite and pyrrhotite?

Another issue already raised by this councillor at the mica meeting is also again when he asks for the names of council staff, county councillors and TDs that met with the Expert Panel for defective blocks in 2016 and an explanation why he and other councillors were not told or asked to meet with this what he describes as "so called expert panel?

Cllr Albert Doherty (SF) has also submitted mica related questions.

He asks how many applications for recoupable funding for remedial works to council houses with defective concrete blocks have been submitted to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage in 2019, 2020 and 2021; when will the current works plan for council affected mica houses commence and will the council confirm the location and number of houses identified and prioritised for works in 2021?

His party colleague, Cllr Gerry McMonagle (SF) also raises the mica situation through two more questions.

He asks how the council is going to roll out a strategy to deal with social housing tenants affected by mica that will be timely and address their re-housing needs and how many of the council's social houses have been tested to date. He adds he wants a breakdown per municipal district breakdown.

The meeting begins at 11am and is expected to last the best part of the day with some 35 items listed on the agenda alone. It is unclear from the agenda whether the public will be able to gain access to the proceedings via a special link as happened at the special council mica meeting a few weeks ago.

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