Wednesday, 28 September 2011
Joe Higgins (Dublin West, Socialist Party)
The trauma continues for tens of thousands of homeowners who, with their families, comprise some hundreds of thousands of ordinary people whose homes are exploding in slow motion, but relentlessly so, because of pyrite-induced heaving emanating from contamination of underfloor infill. It is especially acute in west Dublin, north Dublin, Meath, Kildare and some other areas.
Since I raised this issue with the Taoiseach in May, there have been some important developments. Scandalously, Homebond, the builders' and developers' insurance scheme, cynically, coldly and heartlessly used a single court case to wash its hands of its responsibility to the homeowners, who thought they had comfort by way of this insurance scheme, and is walking away. Last week, the Minister for the Environment, Community and Local Government announced he was setting up a panel to look into the pyrite crisis. That is a start, but the his statement is deeply worrying. He said, "This is, of course, a civil matter to which the State is not a party or in any way liable". This is deeply worrying for affected homeowners who are in touch weekly with public representatives because the implication is that they will be left with their homes coming apart at the seams while a gaggle of developers, builders and insurance companies slug it out for years in the courts to try and evade their responsibilities.
I put it to the Taoiseach that the Minister's statement is based on a wrong premise. The State has a serious responsibility because it and its agencies were negligent in that the building regulator were negligent in not supervising the construction and the materials going into these homes when it had known about pyrites for decades. Also, the Homebond scheme was deeply flawed from the outset, from when it was set up in 1978. It is not all the fault of Fianna Fáil. Fine Gael and Labour were in Government twice in that time.