'There is light at the end of the tunnel'
The group of Mullingar homeowners who have been unable to insure their properties for over a decade have welcomed the news that the green light has been given for a new redress scheme to fully fund repairs for defective houses and apartments built during the Celtic Tiger.
Claire Ryan is one of 32 people from The Oaks, Lakepoint who have been unable to get insurance for their defective properties for over 12 years due to fire safety issues.
Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner today, Ms Ryan said that she and her neighbours felt “a huge sense of relief” when the announcement was made by Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien yesterday (Wednesday), that cabinet had approved a new redress scheme for the estimated 100,000 owners who bought defective residential properties between 1991 and 2013.
“My phone was hopping yesterday with calls from other owners. We were trying to take in what it means for us. It's also a recognition from the state of the seriousness of the problem.
“Our apartments and houses are going to made safe and hopefully we will be able to get them insured and people can move on with their lives.
“... We have a really good day yesterday. It was very positive news and a big relief that there is a scheme in place and finally light at the end of the tunnel.”
Minister O'Brien confirmed that the scheme will fund 100 per cent of the repairs, which in the case of Ryan's property and many of her neighbours will cost over €100,000 per unit.
She says that the scheme has to be fully funded because “you can't half do them”. “Either you do it completely or not”.
Minister O'Brien said that scheme should be operational late this year or early 2024. Ryan says that given the seriousness of the problems with the properties in The Oaks she hopes that they will be prioritised when it is up and running.
“We had done a lot of the preliminary work and have a fully detailed engineers' report that shows what has to be addressed. We are at a more advanced stage than some of the other groups and hope that it will get done quicker because of that. Our issues are very serious and we hope that we will be up the list.”
Ryan and her neighbours have been campaigning for years for assistance from the state and many attended a protest in Dublin outside Leinster House last month that was organised by The Construction Defects Alliance.
She says that, at times, they thought “that this day would never come”.
“We campaigned so much, especially over the past couple of years. We never thought it would get to this. It's brilliant. We are absolutely delighted.”