Protesters in Mica have vowed they will continue to organize protests until they receive 100% reparations.
Tens of thousands of people from Donegal, Mayo, Sligo and Limerick flooded the capital on Friday to demand that the government cover all costs of houses collapsing due to bad blocks.
Amid huge disruption in Dublin city center, with roads blocked and public transport unable to move, activist Paddy Diver has vowed protests will continue if their demands are not met.
“We are back to the wall, we have nothing more to lose. We had to come here and show Darragh O’Brien that we don’t take bullshit anymore, ”he said.
“We have 30,000 people on the ground today. If we have to go back down, we can do the same damage with 500 people. We are not leaving. We are going to do sit-downs on the M50, we can close the ports. “
Mr Diver revealed that activists are considering running candidates in the next election.
“We are fed up with false promises. This has been going on for 10 years, ”he said.
“Don’t let anyone forget that when they say it will cost two billion euros to fix these houses, it wouldn’t be close if the government had done its job and listened when we told them.
“They knew it was bad blocks. They set up a scheme because of the bad blocks, but they never stopped the problem from happening. “
Dozens of buses carried people from Donegal, Mayo, Limerick, Claire, Leitrim and Sligo to the capital to walk from the Garden of Remembrance to customs, where the housing department is located, Friday at noon.
A chorus of boos greeted Donegal TD and Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue as he attempted to address the crowd. Organizers pleaded with those gathered to treat the minister with “respect.”
When he was finally cleared to speak, Mr. McConalogue backed the calls for a 100% repair.
“I recognize, and we recognize, the enormous responsibility we have to you. The massive scourge this problem has caused to families has lived on for many years now, ”he said.
“The massive daily stress and nighttime stress that this problem means in terms of people being able to lead normal lives and not being able to do so.
“I want to be absolutely clear in my support for 100% repair. As cabinet minister, I work for this.
But speaking in Belfast, Taoiseach Micheal Martin said details of the repair program would not be ready in time for Tuesday’s budget.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald also addressed the crowd.
“We are here to tell you very simply that we support 100% repair for every family, for every household that has been affected by mica and pyrite. End of story, period, “she said.
She added: “The Minister and the government can come forward but they cannot hide, they cannot hide from this tide of passion and determination and they certainly cannot hide from Paddy Diver.
“I want to thank you for this campaign and I want to thank you for showing that when you take a stand, you can make a difference.”
Activist Eileen Doherty said, “We are tired of being treated like second class citizens and like a forgotten county.
“We’re not guilty, we haven’t done anything wrong. The government has presided over a system of self-certification, light regulation and non-compliance with existing Irish and EU law, which has caused this crisis. “
Campaigners want a program to help families whose homes have been destroyed or damaged by mica, a mineral that can absorb water, as a result of building blocks cracking and crumbling.
The government has been criticized for offering only 90% under the current scheme, leaving homeowners with large bills to repair or rebuild their homes.
Campaigners blamed a lack of building regulations and materials oversight.
An estimated 5,000 homes in County Donegal are affected by defective bricks, with thousands more in Sligo, Clare and Limerick counties.
A report found that the cost of a full compensation scheme could reach 3.2 billion euros.
A spokesperson for the Housing Ministry said no decision has yet been taken on an improved appeals regime.
“Minister O’Brien is keenly aware of the urgency of this matter and will continue discussions on the proposals for an improved regime with departmental officials and his Cabinet colleagues over the coming weeks with a view to presenting a memo to the Minister. Cabinet over the next two weeks, “they said.
“Improvements to the program will require government approval and no decision has yet been made on an improved defective concrete block program. “
Earlier this week, Mr O’Brien said Friday’s protest is expected to be the last time mica-affected homeowners feel the need to protest.
He told Dáil on Wednesday that he would submit a proposal to the government in the coming weeks on a revised compensation scheme.
A draft report, compiled by a task force set up by Mr O’Brien, did not recommend 100% redress, as campaigners demanded.
The minister said he understands the “tragedy” homeowners face and is working with Attorney General Paul Gallagher to see how far the government can legally prosecute anyone responsible for building homes with materials. defective.
“I’m looking at all the options,” Mr. O’Brien said.
“Those who are responsible should be held accountable. “