This makes a complete farce of the Govt's protocol I.S. 465 which was designed to consider Mica as the Only cause of the blocks crumbling in Donegal and ignore completely the reactive minerals.
That being the case the following question must surely be asked:
Did the Government and all the associated institutions and individuals that supported them make a genuine mistake when they designed and passed into law I.S. 465 or did they deliberately devise a plan to deceive, short-change and cheat the affected homeowners of Donegal by assembling a cheap, ineffective and unworkable grant scheme?
After all, they portrayed the 90/10 and the upcoming 'Enhanced' grant schemes as a genuine attempt to put right a huge injustice which most people agree was of the Govt's own making.
In fact, they unashamedly claimed the 'Enhanced Scheme' to be 100% Redress.
So, let's follow the chain of events from the beginning in an attempt to get the full picture and see if we can find where the truth lies.
Back in 2012/13 when the Donegal TDs raised the crumbling blocks as an issue in the Dail the then Minister of State, Deputy Paudie Coffey decided to come to Donegal on a fact-finding mission and to see at first hand the extent of the scandal of the affected homeowners and their houses.
He met with a wide spectrum of politicians, civil servants, groups and individuals culminating in a number of visits to affected homes where he witnessed on site the crumbling blocks.
By all reports he was deeply shocked and on his return to Dublin announced his intention of setting up an expert panel to investigate the cause of the deteriorating blocks in the walls of people's houses that were growing in number by the day.
The following year his successor, Minister Damien English, officially announced the setting up of the expert panel to investigate the ever-growing scandal of crumbling blocks in people's homes in Donegal.
Its membership consisted of three highly regarded civil engineers and a geologist.
But here we find the first indication that the Govt might well be up to no good and indeed have a predetermined plan of their own in relation to how they believe this problem should be solved.
Unbelievably they published Terms of Reference for the Expert Panel which restricted their investigations to an academic 'Desk Top Study' only which did not allow the team of Engineers and Geologist to send off for scientific analysis the crumbled remains of the concrete blocks which would have identified immediately the Real and Absolute scientific reasons why the blocks crumbled.
In truth it could be said that in so doing the Govt completely prevented the Expert Panel from carrying out the necessary forensic investigation of the evidence (material from the crumbled blocks) and instead tied their hands behind their backs by restricting them to a desk top study which would search for Mica only and nothing else.
This decision by the Government not to allow the material evidence of the crumbled blocks to be sent for analysis is critically important as it flies in the face of all investigative logic and reason and calls into question their true motives in attempting to get to the truth of what happened to the building blocks from the affected houses.
It also gives a very clear insight into the road map that the Govt had already planned to travel and which gave the message to all those who would now be involved in the investigation and solution on the road to IS 465, their intended destination, which would put the blame completely on Mica.
The Expert Panel, notwithstanding the restrictions imposed on them, blamed Mica on a guess and without an ounce of scientific research. They forwarded their report to the Govt who in turn forwarded it onto the NSAI (National Standards Authority of Ireland) with orders to design a standard to deal with the "Mica" problem in Donegal and Pyrite in Mayo.
The NSAI set up a Technical Committee (063) and tasked it with the Govt's request to design a Standard based on Mica only in Donegal to deal with remediation of the affected houses on a legal basis. This they obligingly did.
I.S. 465 was created and the Govt was given what the Govt wanted from the word go - a protocol which would base all remediation options on the amount of Mica in your affected wall blocks and unbelievably no mention of Reactive Iron Sulphide Minerals or indeed the testing of potentially infected foundations.
Game set and match to the Govt and backed to the hilt with some of the most important heavyweights in the business, NSAI Technical Committee 063, who saw nothing wrong and gave it their seal of technical and academic approval.
The political establishment, across the board, also agreed and in Feb.2020 I.S.465 was incorporated into national legislation namely S.I. 25 of 2020 which became known in Donegal as the “90/10 Scheme”.
Let there be no doubt about it - this is the way Govts do their business.
It is the reason each Govt department has a top layer of highly qualified senior civil servants who will firstly and secretly travel the road and decide what the outcome is going to be. They control the process, the journey and the destination from beginning to end.
To this end they also have available the requisite technical and academic heavyweights.
This is exactly what happened in relation to the establishment of I.S. 465.
The Dept of Housing knew well that the real problem was Reactive Iron Sulphide Minerals i.e. Pyrrhotite before they announced the Expert Panel and it's ridiculous Terms of Reference.
Ireland was well known and mentioned as having this problem as far back as 1954.
The Govt and its top civil servants knew if the real truth was found out i.e. Pyrrhotite it would mean demolitions of All affected buildings across the board.
They were given a glimpse of a financial nightmare which had to be avoided at all costs and they began working on putting together a cheap and deceitful alternative.
They found it in a material called Mica and they built a believable fairy tale around it of 'freeze/thaw', blaming it for the crumbling blocks in the homes of Donegal in an effort to minimise the cost to the state without the least regard to the innocent affected homeowners.
The following statement is a synopsis and a perfect example to demonstrate the shameful deceit perpetrated on the homeowners of Donegal. It is taken, word for word, from an interview given by Mr Aidan O'Connell on RTE on the 24th April 2022.
Mr O'Connell is a chartered civil engineer, a structural expert with particular expertise on Mica related issues and a member of the NSAI Technical Committee 063 which designed I.S. 465 on behalf of the Government:
Mica doesn't chemically react. It is like tissue paper within a concrete block where it absorbs water and then when that water freezes it makes the block burst internally. You can prevent the moisture from getting into the concrete block then largely you will be doing away with the problem . . . So in my opinion the building is not structurally compromised and will not become structurally compromised as long as you maintain the exterior.
This statement was completely debunked by the International Scientists at the conference in Letterkenny especially the notion that Mica absorbs water like a tissue. This statement exposes the true agenda of the Government whose sole intention was to put in place a cheap farce of a scheme, save the Govt exchequer and throw the homeowners under the bus.
When all things are considered, people must ask themselves some important fundamental questions.
Where was the point in ever lobbying those who caused the problem in the first place by putting in place self-regulation on the quarries and concrete manufactured products and thereby allowing the scandal to take place?
The political establishment, right across the board, have shown their true colours by putting in place two grant schemes which are a complete insult to all the innocent victims of this home destroying scandal.
The complete campaign to date has been a disaster and shows no sign of critical analysis or change of direction.
The following statement sums up all that is wrong with the road travelled to date:
"Those who cause a problem should never be part of creating the solution."
⏩ Enda Craig is a Donegal resident and community activist.