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Mica brick repair scheme 'being finalised'

Crumbling blocks Image copyright Mica Action
Image caption Houses across Donegal and Mayo have been crumbling due to blocks containing high levels of the minerals mica and pyrite.

A repair scheme for homeowners whose houses crumbled because of blocks containing pyrite and mica is "being finalised", the Irish government said.

The €20m (£17.3m) redress scheme was announced in October 2018.

The Department for Housing said "implementation arrangements" are being discussed with Donegal and Mayo County Councils.

On Wednesday, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy told owners the scheme will only apply to a principal private residence.

Up to 5,700 houses across counties Donegal and Mayo have been affected.

On Thursday, a Department for Housing spokesman said the "full terms and conditions of the scheme are still being finalised in consultation with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform".

"This process will take account of the engagement that the Department is currently having with both Donegal and Mayo County Councils, who will ultimately be responsible for its implementation," the spokesman said.

Mica and pyrite are minerals that absorb water - that causes buildings to disintegrate and plastering to crack.

Image copyright Mica Action Group
Image caption In 2016 an expert panel found the concrete blocks used were not fit for purpose

It is understood the scheme will open in September.

It will not cover accommodation or storage costs accrued by claimants.

Eileen Doherty, from the Mica Action Group said the group would continue to "lobby on the behalf of homeowners for the cost of these other factors, such as storage and alternate accommodation to be covered".

Mrs Doherty said it was disappointing holiday homeowners and those without principal residence status were excluded.

She added the action group would continue to push for a greater allocation of funds as the initial €20m would not be enough to cover the redress.

Not fit for purpose

The scheme opens after many years of lobbying by campaigners.

In 2016, an expert panel was set up to investigate problems with homes affected by pyrite and mica.

They concluded that concrete blocks sold in County Donegal and used in housing over a period of years were not fit for purpose.

A number of suppliers were used in the building of the houses in Donegal and Mayo.

A Donegal masonry supplier apologised in August last year for not speaking out sooner about the situation.

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