June 24, 2022

Mica activists in discussion to form a new political party

Mica activists are in talks to form a new political party to contest the upcoming local elections in Donegal.

The move would send a wake-up call to the government, with politicians in the Northwest fearing for their seats in the fallout from the bad blocks scandal.

It comes amid the anger of affected homeowners that the proposed recourse regime has fallen short of expectations, due to a per square foot cap that is expected to be revised in February.

Campaigner Paddy Diver said it was time for ‘the people of Donegal to start caring for Donegal’.

“We’re not leaving, there’s a lot going on in the background. We are seriously in talks on the candidacy of candidates, “he said.

Paddy Diver outside his mica-affected home in County Donegal (Niall Carson / PA)

“The advisers there right now are way too quiet.

“I look around and start to dig into other things that aren’t working for us. There is nothing for young people to do in our city. Not even a basketball court, not a tennis court, there is nothing.

“If I walked into the council, I wouldn’t be sitting in a corner. I would make noise and expose the people there. The rest of the advisers around Donegal, they need to step up their game.

“There aren’t enough people doing their job there.”

“The forgotten county”

Mr Diver said the party would not focus solely on Mica, but would tackle long-standing issues in Donegal, known locally as the ‘forgotten county’ due to a perceived lack of funding and services to the over the years.

“Now is the time for the people of Donegal to start caring for Donegal. The way the Healy-Raes look after Kerry is what we want, ”he said.

“If TDs in this county were looking after the people of Donegal, we wouldn’t be in the state we are in today. This has been going on for 10 years. Are you telling me that a TD shouldn’t have stopped this from happening?

“The warning signs were there 10 years, even five years ago.

“I would love to go out there and make some changes, being honest. Because I would ruffle the feathers. I wouldn’t be sitting in a corner, I’ll tell you.

People take part in a Mica protest in Dublin city center (Brian Lawless / PA)

Mr Diver said he had not yet decided whether he would run for himself, but did not rule him out.

“Someday I think I would definitely run. Another day, I think, might I even make a change? Would that bother me too much? he said.

“But, at the end of the day, if there was a little mosquito in a room full of people, it would be a very boring room.

“We don’t know who’s showing up yet, but I certainly wouldn’t rule them out.”

“We are still in talks, we are considering a new party at the moment. But we are still in talks on the best way forward, ”he added.

Mr Diver said he was heartbroken for the children of Donegal, many of whom live in crumbling houses over Christmas.

“The children now, they have lost their childhood,” he said.

“Some of them struggle, others cry and their sanity suffers.

“I know myself from talking to teachers that children’s grades are suffering a lot this year.

“Donegal is becoming a sad place to live, let’s be honest.

Children from all over Donegal including (left to right) Hallie Kearney (eight), Fallon Kerr (ten) and Tori Cantwell (ten) at the Dail gates on Kildare Street, Dublin (Brian Lawless / PA)

“It has an impact on children, it has an impact on parents and it has an impact on retirees.

“I had a pensioner on the phone the other day and she was crying inconsolably.

“Christmas is here and she is heartbroken. “

Campaigners criticized the government’s revised appeals regime, which they say will leave homeowners with bills of up to € 65,000.

The scheme has been criticized for a cap of € 145 per square foot, available only for the first 1,000 square feet, with a sliding scale thereafter.

Costs at Donegal County Council average € 150 per square foot.

The cap is expected to be reviewed by the Society of Chartered Surveyor Ireland (SCSI) in February.

Mr Diver has called on Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien to accept SCSI’s decision when it is made, saying it would be “grossly unfair” of him to make any changes to the recommendation.

“If he can do it in February, that means he can pull a number out of thin air,” he said.