"Cometh The Hour - Cometh The Man."
When Paddy Diver swung his legs over the side of his bed on a fine May morning in 2021, looked in the mirror and said, "I've had enough ... I'm taking no more of this shite", little did he realise the enormity and intensity of the storm of raging anger and frustration that he would unleash when he punched a hole in the dam that was already bursting to get out.
It needed someone to get the ball rolling and no better man.
In sheer desperation he reacted against an enormous injustice which natural instinct told him was completely wrong.
With no great plan other than his belief that what was happening to him and his family was outrageous he decided that enough was enough and something drastic needed to happen to highlight the situation.
Paddy's house, like thousands of others in Donegal, was crumbling apart at the seams as the concrete building blocks disintegrated in front of their eyes, rendering their new houses uninhabitable.
The culprit that caused the blocks to disintegrate and crumble was a mineral called Mica, found in the rock quarries in Donegal and used in the manufacture of the blocks. Laboratory analysis found it was contained in the blocks to an enormous degree and left the walls of the houses with no chance of surviving.
Mica has the effect of absorbing water, reducing the cohesive power of the cement and rendering the normal strength of the blocks to that resembling Weetabix.
This Mica, contained in the quarried rocks of Donegal, was legally required to be restricted to a maximum of one per cent in the manufacture of the concrete building blocks, but tests and analysis showed Mica content as high as fifty-eight per cent in the walls of some Inishowen houses.
The walls stood no chance and thousands of crumbling houses now litter the Donegal landscape as families look on in traumatised bewilderment as their dream homes literally come falling down around them.
These houses were built in the early two thousands by hard working people who scraped and saved to put together mortgage deposits. They now face devastation on many levels as they wonder in fear what the future holds for themselves and their young families.
Heartrending stories of listening to walls cracking in the night and in many cases the wind actually coming through gaps in the breaking walls are now part and parcel of everyday conversations.
Hearts in their mouths for the safety of their children when weather forecasts predict the next storm of which there are many in the county of Donegal.
Many families have taken precautionary measures of locating caravans and mobile homes in the vicinity of their houses should it be necessary to flee their homes in an emergency.
Thoughts of personal and family health and safety are becoming priority issues as the time for leaving permanently looms ever closer for many.
Some years ago, in an attempt to get justice, a number of families combined to take legal action against the block supplier who simply closed the company, re-named it and continued trading.
Gradually the Mica victims came together and a group was formed to lobby local politicians and the Government for help.
Last year a 90/10 agreement was finally hammered out and reluctantly agreed to by the Mica Action Group.
On the surface it didn't look too bad.
The Government would cover ninety per cent of the re-dress costs while the victims would have to find the other ten per cent.
But as usual the devil was in the detail.
First big mistake was allowing the Co Cl executive and administration that was partly to blame through inadequate regulation and non-enforcement of planning conditions to be in charge of the applications for the redress.
The ten per cent, when the hidden charges and incidentals were added on, came in many cases to over 100,000 Euro thus putting meaningful access to re-dress beyond the reach of the majority.
Very quickly, in true bureaucratic fashion, the applicants began encountering impossible obstacles and an additional layer of trauma was now seen to be added to the victim's situation by making the scheme completely unworkable.
In truth, hoodwinked by civil servants would more closely describe it.
The campaign group had been well and truly outsmarted by a shameful establishment though it must also be mentioned that the elected representatives agreed to the 90/10 and were willing to run with it. Two weeks after Paddy Diver highlighted its complete unworkability, he held a ten thousand people protest in Buncrana. The councillors had a miraculous conversion and joined the 100% Redress - Nothing Less campaign.
St Paul would have been impressed by the overnight conversion.
Paddy Diver, a Mica victim himself, had decided that enough was enough and organised to take direct action.
With his smart phone he headed for the concrete block plant and the quarry to take short videos to highlight his plight and so began the new segment of the present campaign.
Many videos were posted on social media showing the crumbling houses, the devastated families and the seemingly uncaring attitude and behaviour of the blockmaking company and political establishment.
He called and demanded that his fellow Mica victims get up off their backsides and fight back.
Together there was hope ... alone there was none.
Almost immediately a dam of pent-up anger and frustration burst wide open, and inside two weeks ten thousand people, victims, neighbours, friends and supporters came together in Buncrana at a rally and the cry went out ... Let's not take it lying down - let's take it to Dublin.
On the 15th of June a convoy of seventy plus buses will head south from Donegal to Dublin and deliver a determined message to the powers that be - give Donegal families fair play, justice and equality.
We demand 100% Redress - No Less.
It had become known that a similar type situation, albeit a lot smaller, had taken place in Dublin and Co Wicklow where all affected householders had received 100% redress in every way.
To highlight the history of what happened in Donegal a very influential video was made and posted.
In a very short space of time, it went viral with comments of disbelief flooding in from all over the world.
It seemed the people's own government and big business were about to make thousands of people homeless which hearkened back to a darker period in our history.
Donegal people saw no reason why they should be treated as second class citizens by being offered less than those that had a comparable Pyrite situation.
For too long Donegal people have been handed the rough end of the stick but no one is reaching for it this time.
Paddy Diver, with his enormous and constantly increasing support, achieved more in two weeks than the elected representatives did in ten years.
It was worth noting that no politician was asked to address the thousands at the rally in Buncrana.
The truth and reality were sinking in and the people were in no mood for easy forgiveness.
Additionally, news filtered out by way of an ex Co. councillor through the mainstream media regarding government public buildings.
This ex public representative stated that many important buildings throughout the county of Donegal were showing tell-tale signs of Mica infestation but they were advised to keep their mouths shut about it by the Council executive a number of years previously.
Unbelievably, defects that should have been addressed immediately on the grounds of health and safety for those that worked in these buildings plus the passing public were painted or plastered over to hide the true extent of this ever-widening scandal.
That public representative would be complicit in this cover-up is a scandal in its own right.
Some of these buildings are three and four-story high with the ever-increasing possibility of sections breaking off with potentially very serious consequences to the public at large.
This too will need serious investigation.
At present it is estimated that over ten thousand private houses are affected. To this number must now be added a huge number of Council social housing stock and numerous public buildings which include libraries, schools, large buildings leased to the HSE and other organisations for various activities.
All in all, a scandal of huge proportions which has the potential to rock the establishment to its core and change the political landscape of Donegal and farther afield when the truth of the grubby detail emerges.
Cassidy's block plant has closed to the public as of the 8th of June as a result of the Boycott Cassidys campaign by the Mica victims.
Huge numbers of buses and private cars have signed up for the monster rally in Dublin on Tues the 15th of June where the Mica victims and their supporters will let the political establishment hear what they think in no uncertain terms.
The non-negotiable demand will be - 100% Redress - No Less.
Local FF/FG ministers and all hues of political persuasions have been told that Donegal people are not second-class citizens in their own country and they can forget the 90/10 bum deal.
Massive support from the Donegal diaspora has been flooding in plus substantial donations to cover all campaign expenses.
There is hardly a business, both big and small in Donegal, that has not rallied to generously support the Mica victims and their families.
Mica victims have taken huge strength from each other's collective determination and absolute commitment to the demand for parity with the previous Pyrite scheme in Dublin and down the East coast where victims of that scandal received 100% redress. They see no reason why they should not receive the same.
These families have been welded together in common cause in search of natural justice for themselves, their neighbours and their futures.
It will be a brave politician or establishment that denies them.
⏩ Enda Craig is Donegal resident.