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Housing Agency should oversee mica redress scheme, says Sinn Fein

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Calls have been made for the Housing Agency to oversee the mica redress scheme to ensure families affected are not left competing against each other.

Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty said failure to appoint the body, which was tasked with overseeing remediation of the pyrite scheme, would leave families “competing for materials or personnel and at the mercy of construction inflation”.

Speaking during Leaders’ Questions on Thursday, Mr Doherty said such a move would ultimately deliver better value for money for the taxpayer.

He said: “The families are very clear in this. They want the Housing Agency to manage this from start to finish.

“That has numerous benefits which you should be concerned about, not least the benefits of economies of scale, which will help deliver a better value for money.

“And the opposite of that is that it would leave those devastated, those crushed families, competing for materials or personnel and at the mercy of construction inflation.

“Minister, just like with the pyrite resolution scheme in Leinster, the Housing Agency with proven expertise should be tasked with the responsibility of project managing the restoration of the affected homes, in partnership with the families.

“From the tendering of works, to the appointment of contractors, to ensuring quality and right through to providing a State guarantee for the works to the families.”

Mr Doherty said the Housing Agency is the only body which could handle the project properly.

“We should not force families who are at their wits end to be competing for developers, prices, tenders and all of the rest,” he added.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said “very significant” amounts of money will be spent on an improved redress scheme, which would reflect what has been learned from previous schemes.

But he warned of the need to balance the redress scheme against other challenges that could arise in the construction of homes in the future.

He said: “We’re aware, not just of the challenges of mica, but other challenges across the country in relation to how homes have been built and what their future is.

“We as a Government need to ensure that we are confident that we are dealing with this in a way that meets the needs that are being raised with us by those families directly, while also being conscious of the cost involved in this.

“We will be making this decision conscious of significant amounts of money being spent in relation to this, which we acknowledge needs to happen.

“We need to focus in on ensuring that as this money is being spent, it is being done in a way that can deliver speed of execution, can deliver confidence about being able to meet the needs and does also reflect on what we have learned from how other schemes have been administered across our country, in particular pyrite.”

He said the issue is being examined by himself, Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien and Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath.

“We’re doing it as quickly as we can,” he added.

A Cabinet decision on the redress scheme was expected next week but this has been delayed, with November 16 now the more likely date.

An estimated 5,000 homes in Co Donegal are affected by defective bricks, with thousands more understood to be impacted in counties Sligo, Clare and Limerick, with campaigners calling for 100% redress from the Government.

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