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MARCH 2015: Mica Action Group AGM
The first Mica Action Group Annual General Meeting was held on the 19th March before an enthusiastic and vocal group of homeowners in the Grianan Hotel, Burt.

Following reports of the previous 14 months activities from the Joint Secretaries and the Treasurer, a Constitution was adopted for the first time by the group. It is hoped that this will allow for a more efficient and effective method of running the group going forward. 

The main event of the evening then took place with the election of a new 12 person Committee, with membership drawn from the Inishowen, Letterkenny and Stranoral electoral areas. 

The AGM ended with a discussion in which the assembled homeowners shared their experiences in dealing with the on-going issues brought on by cracking walls in their dwellings.

MARCH 2015: Mica Action Group delegation at the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis in Derry
As part of our cross-party approach to achieving a government backed redress scheme for Donegal homeowners affected by structural cracking to their homes, on 7th March 2014 the Mica Action Group (MAG) accepted an invitation from Cllr. Albert Doherty, MCC to attend the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis in Derry and to meet with local and national elected representatives.

The MAG delegation outlined to party environment spokesperson, Deputy Brian Stanley, TD, and housing spokesperson Deputy Dessie Ellis, TD, the serious problems and challenges the affected homeowners and tenants have to face on a daily basis.

A “constructive” discussion followed with a number of possible infinitives being identified, which are to be followed up by Sinn Fein at both County Council and Government level.
While a redress scheme is the ultimate aim of the group, it was stressed to the Sinn Fein public representatives that more immediate help could be given to homeowners in the form of an exemption from the Local Property Tax (LTP).

This exemption, which has already been granted to homeowners affected by Pyrite in the Leinster area, could be implemented fairly quickly if there was a political willingness at government level say the group.

Mica Action Group now represents over 180 homeowners.  This number includes those residing in County Donegal as well as those living in the North and further afield who own houses in the county. 

The group believe that this number is "the tip of the iceberg" as regards the number of houses in the county affected by cracking and that while many more homes are affected, the owners for various reasons feel unable to face the issue.

MAG stress that they welcome approaches from any political party interested in helping Donegal householders who find themselves in the invidious position of living in homes that are a potential health and safety hazard and are worthless on the property market. 

Mica Action Group delegation meeting Sinn Fein public representatives at Ard Fheis in Derry. Included are; TD's Brian Stanley and Dessie Ellis as well as Donegal County Councillors Albert Doherty, Liam Doherty & Gary Doherty.

FEBRUARY 2015: Minister of State for Housing, Deputy Paudie Coffey, TD visits affected homeowners in Donegal and meets Mica Action Group
The Minister of State at the Dept. of the Environment with special responsibility for housing, Deputy Paudie Coffey, TD visited a number of homes in Inishowen on Saturday 28th February. In this fact-finding visit to houses affected by cracking he was accompanied by Donegal Fine Gael public representatives; Minister of State, Deputy Joe McHugh, TD as well as Cllr. Bernard McGuinness, MCC. After seeing at first-hand the condition of the houses and speaking to the owners he met with the committee of the Mica Action Group for a presentation and discussion. The Minister said that his department would do what it could to support the group in conjunction with Minister McHugh's Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and to seek a resolution to the crisis. For more please refer to "The Derry Journal" article on our Links page.

The Mica Action Group committee meeting with  Minister of State for Housing, Deputy Paudie Coffey, TD. Also in attendance were Minister of State, Deputy Joe McHugh, TD as well as Cllr. Bernard McGuinness, MCC.
(Photo courtesy of Christine Galbraith)

DECEMBER 2014: Meeting with senior DOE,H&LG officials in Custom House, Dublin
Brigid Mc Gonagle and Philip McDaid from the MAG in addition to Advisors, Damien McKay and Dr. Eileen Doherty attended a meeting in Dublin with 3 senior officials from the Dept. of the Environment in order to discuss the on-going serious problems in Donegal in relation to structural cracking in houses. 
The meeting which was scheduled to last one hour stretched to over two and a half hours. Following a presentation from the group on the problems faced by homeowners  in Donegal, a constructive discussion ensued between the group and the DOE officials. The civil servants indicated that they would take the issues discussed to a meeting with politicians next week and would revert to the group by Christmas with an answer as to what measures, if any, the DOE were prepared to put in place in the near future to investigate the problem. Clearly this is the beginning of a long road on the way to redress for affected householders.

NOVEMBER 2014: Public Meeting at An Grianan Hotel, Burt, Co. Donegal
Upwards of 400 people attended the first public meeting organised by the MAG. Among the highlights was an emotional testimony from homeowner Karl Murtagh on the affects that cracking to the fabric of his home has had on himself and his family. Advisor to the group, Eileen Doherty presented the results of an on-going survey the group is undertaking into "the incidence of cracking on Donegal homes." The PowerPoint presentation including full results of the survey can be viewed on our Facebook page. The meeting also featured a discussion panel made up of Minister of State, Deputy Joe McHugh, TD, as well as Deputies Padraig MacLochlainn, TD, Charlie McConalogue, TD  and Thomas Pringle, TD. Cllr. Martin  Farren, MCC represented the Labour Party on the panel. The group look forward to promises made being kept.

OCTOBER 2014: Raidio Na Gaeltachta "Barrscéalta". Reporter Áine Ní Churráin.
Another radio programme in the medium of Irish highlighting the problems of defective blocks in Donegal. Áine Ní Churráin  interviewed Brigid Mc Gonagle, joint secretary of the group and a homeowner whose house is affected by cracking.

OCTOBER 2014: TG4 Nuacht  item on problems facing homeowners in Donegal regarding cracking to the walls of their houses. Reporter: Áine Ní Bhreisleain
The issue of cracking walls in Donegal homes got its first airing on national television when Áine  Ní Bhreisleain of Nuacht ,TG4 interviewed Karl Murtagh, a homeowner with severe cracking problems in the walls of his residence . This was followed by an interview as Gaelige, with Brigid Mc Gonagle, joint secretary of the Mica Action Group. Lets hope this is the first of many exposures in the national media of this very serious problem which is affecting so many people in Donegal

OCTOBER 2014:   RTE Radio 1 Report on Crumbling Houses in Donegal. Reporter: Valerie Cox
After coverage of the issue of crumbling houses in the local Donegal broadcast, print and digital media in the latter half of September, the national media is now at last starting to take notice.
Valerie Cox, an investigative reporter on RTE Radio 1's "Today With Seán O'Rourke" programme visited Donegal to look at the problem of crumbling houses. She was shown around a number of affected houses and conducted interviews. Her report, broadcast on 2nd October can be heard by going to our Links page and clicking on the appropriate link.

AUGUST 2014:   Registration Form
In the wake of former Minister Hogan's response to a Parliamentary Question where he indicated that the Dapartment had a lack of evidence in relation to cracking in Donegal homes, the MAG have taken the brave step for an unfunded voluntary group of beginning to register persons who have structural defects in their houses caused by defective blocks and manifested by cracking to the fabric of the dwellings. The Registration Form was launched in early August 2014 and has been very successful in collating data in relation to location of dwelling, nature of defects, timelines, etc. If you wish to register please click on the link to the right. (just below the Facebook icon). All data gathered will be treated in the strictest confidence and will only be used in a generalised way to further the aims of the group: a full redress scheme to be put in place by Government to address the problems of cracking in Donegal homes.

MAY 2014:  Parliamentary Question to Minister for the Environment, Community & Local Govt.
On 27th May 2014, Deputy Padraig MacLochlainn, TD, Sinn Féin asked Minister of the Environment, Deputy Phil Hogan, TD, a Parliamentary Question relating to the on-going structural problems in their dwellings faced by homeowners in Donegal. In his reply the Minister insisted that homeowners could among other things seek redress through the courts. Cllr. Albert Doherty MCC, Sinn Féin responded in this "Derry Journal" piece:

MAY 2014:    Meeting with the Pyrite Resolution Board in Dublin

Through the good offices of Deputy Joe McHugh, TD, Fine Gael, a meeting was set up on 8th May 2014 with the Pyrite Resolution Board (PRB) in Dublin. Two members of the Mica Action Group attended along with representatives of Donegal County Council (DCC), the Housing Agency, the Chairman of the PRB, Mr. Noel Carroll and Deputy McHugh and his secretary.
                                           Mr. Carroll indicated that at the moment the issue in Donegal was outsude his remit. He did however note that if redress was going to be a possibility in the county, then the scale and cause of the problem would have to be established as well as the type of remediation required.
Deputy McHugh stated that Minister Hogan had indicated to him that the resources of the PRB was available to the group if DCC requested it of the Board. It was also suggested that the group make contact with the Pyrite Action Group in order to gain insight on how they successfully mounted their campaign for redress in the Leinster area.:

MAY 2014: Presentation to County Councillors at Council Chamber, Lifford, 28th May.
 3 members of the group made a presentation to the final meeting of the present Council before Election 2014. The "Donegal News" carried the story.

APRIL 2014:  Meeting with senior Donegal County Council officials.

On 7th April 2014, a delegation from the group met senior Donegal County Council officials including the County Manager, Mr. Séamus Neely. Also present was Mr. Damien McKay, Technical Adviser to the group an Cllr. Martin Farren, MCC (Labour). Following oral testimonies from delegates on how cracking has affected their homes, families and health, a PowerPoint presentation graphically illustrated the issues. Delegates explained that the group (founded in January) wanted a redress scheme put in place for all homes affected by defective blocks in the county. The Council officials agreed to formalise contacts with the Dept. Environment in order to ger a clear understanding of the Departments position on the proble. the local Authority are also to liaise with the group with regard to the technical issues.