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25 May 2022

'How could we ever afford to build our home for a second time?' - Patrick McLaughlin

Weekly redress protest at Ardaravan Square in Buncrana

Patrick McLaughlin, Patrick McLaughlin (The General) and Josephine Kelly at the weekly redress protest in Ardaravan Square in Buncrana

Redress campaigners gathered in Buncrana's Ardaravan Square, following the Mica Action Group's assertion homeowners were completely excluded from the drafting of the Society of Chartered Surveyors of Ireland (SCSI) terms of reference for the organisation's report on construction costs for the defective concrete block scheme.

The protest, which is a weekly event, took place on Friday morning.

Earlier in the day, Mica Action Group (MAG) PRO, Michael Doherty told Inish Live thought Housing Minister, Darragh O'Brien was being “thrown under the bus, at every opportunity, by the Housing Department.”

Mr Doherty said: “It seems like a vendetta by the Housing Department against the homeowners. That's how it feels at this stage."

One of the affected homeowners in Ardaravan Square was Patrick McLaughlin, from Linsfort.

Patrick and his wife built their house in 2014, and had two children at the time.

Patrick said: “The love and passion, savings and joy, we put into making a family home to extend our family was all we had in our minds and we were both so happy.

“Fast forward to the present, 2022, we now have five children under nine, and another one due soon.

“Hearing about what the future holds for us, in what was supposed to be our forever home, has brought a lot of stress. We are constantly concerned and thinking about our future. We are living in an unsafe house and knowing it will soon crumble, is bringing us great sadness.

“We already see the cracks and the discolouration on the outside. It is constantly wet on the gable wall and underneath the window sills with cracks, some having to be filled.”

Patrick said questions are constantly going around in his mind.

He added: “'How could we ever afford, on demolishing our home, to build a second home?' We are still paying for our first home, so how in under God are we going to put thousands of euro towards a second home?

“At the first sign of crumbling, breakable, plaster and blocks, we knew our children would no longer be safe to play outdoors, around their private space, a place they call home, due to mica. They are so young that picking and crumbling pieces from our falling house is play to them. But, unfortunately, this could lead to a large chunk of the plaster or a block falling on them and causing injury to their eyes, head or feet.

“My wife and I no longer feel safe living here and our poor children will suffer due to seeing their home crumbling. They are already asking so many questions and for an eight-year-old to be chatting about this with friends at school is ridiculous.

“This should not be in a child's mind. In later life it could bring on anxiety and mental health problems, due to watching their lovely home fall and crumble down.”

Patrick was angry he was being forced to choose between his children's education fees and government redress shortfall.
He said: “The future of our children is very important to us but we have all of these worries and concerns.

“We are thinking, the government just doesn't care? Do we as parents just disregard parties, family trips, toys, clothing and cut back on food shopping, just to put money away for a second home? Making kids suffer for a problem for which we as parents are not responsible is a joke. Little kids do not deserve seeing their parents struggle. Life is too short and life is to be enjoyed for making memories.

“Month after month thousands like us are looking for answers but not a question answered yet. How long have people go to wait? We just hope there is light at the end of the tunnel and this huge high weight will be lifted off our shoulders. We are trying to carry on with our lives but we are still thinking of what lies ahead.”

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