"If we don’t get what we want... we're coming back with a vengeance." Thousands gather in Dublin for Mica protest
"If we don’t get what we want – we’re going to block the M50, we’re going to block the ports. We’re coming back with a vengeance.”
Thousands of people from Donegal, Mayo, and Clare gathered in Dublin city centre on Tuesday to demand a 100% regress scheme for homeowners whose houses are crumbling due to the use of defective concrete blocks.
Protesters gathered outside The Convention Centre at Spencer Dock before marching to Leinster House.
“If we don’t get what we want today, we’ll be back to Dublin,” said Paddy Diver, Mica campaigner and protest organiser.
"We’ve come down today and we’re going to leave with our heads held high."
Campaigners estimate that “anything from 5,000 to tens of thousands” of homes are falling apart due to the presence of high levels of mica – a mineral that causes interior and exterior walls to crack, resulting in significant health and safety issues.
Under the current Defective Concrete Blocks Grant Scheme put in place last year, the government will cover 90% of repair costs, leaving homeowners to foot the bill for the remaining 10%.
In order to qualify, homeowners must pay for two tests, costing upwards of €5,000, to determine the presence of mica - a huge financial burden for many families.
Eileen Doherty, spokesperson for the 100% Regress for Mica Families campaign, called the statements in recent weeks from the government “insulting and wholly disappointing to the families whose homes are crumbling around us”.
Doherty, whose home has been hugely affected by mica, told JOE: “I have nowhere to live. We’re going to have to spend the summer boxing up trying to find somewhere to live, whilst hoping that they put us through the scheme and give us enough to fix our home.
"I’ve spent the last seven or eight years just constantly fighting and pushing – speaking to ministers, speaking to Leo Varadkar, going to meetings and just saying ‘Look, we need to make this a priority'.
"We can’t be expected to accept this substandard scheme that’s being offered to us at the minute.”
Addressing a sizeable crowd at the protest on Tuesday, Sinn Féin TD and Donegal native Pearse Doherty said: “For a long, long time, Donegal was named the forgotten county. Well by God, anyone at Government buildings who thinks Donegal is going to lie down, just take a look at this crowd."
Sinn Fein is due to bring forward a motion supporting a 100% regress scheme in the Dail on Tuesday evening.
"For a long, long time, Donegal was named the forgotten county.
"Well by God, anyone at Government Buildings who thinks Donegal is going to lie down, then just take a look at this crowd."
Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty addresses a sizeable crowd at the #micaprotest #micaredress pic.twitter.com/dvMm881SvB
— JOE.ie (@JOEdotie) June 15, 2021