Owners of crumbling Irish homes ‘disgusted’ by compensation plan

Homeowners in Ireland living in houses built with defective blocks that “crumble like Weetabix” say a compensation scheme unveiled by the government will still leave them with devastating bills of up to €80,000 (£60,000).

A long-awaited redress scheme for the estimated 6,000 people living in homes that have to be demolished and rebuilt was unveiled by the government earlier this week. The government says the scheme will cost €2.2bn and means homeowners will bear no upfront costs.

At first it appeared the government had met many of the demands of campaigners representing people whose homes were built with blocks containing too much of the mineral mica, which caused the blocks to crack and crumble.

But after studying the details – in particular the inclusion of a tapering element to the bailout funds – the campaigners condemned the government’s scheme as a cynical attempt to grab positive headlines.

Government funds for rebuilding are tapered from €145 a square foot for the first 1,000 square feet (93 sq metres) to €110 a square foot for the next 1,000 and €100 a square foot thereafter. Campaigners said this leaves major shortfalls for those whose homes need demolishing and rebuilding.

“Just for the contractor alone this is going to cost me €79,000,” said Angeline Ruddy, acting deputy principal of a school in Carndonagh in Donegal, who lives in a house that will have to be demolished. “If I went to the bank looking for that they are going to laugh at me because my collateral is a house full of holes that is crumbling.

“I am absolutely disgusted,” she said. “I cannot believe that after all these years trying to get redress, that the government has decided to treat us like this. This is shocking behaviour.

She said she feels betrayed by her local MP, the agriculture minister Charlie McConalogue. “I do not know how he can drive through the town,” she said. “He knows the pain people are suffering yet doesn’t seem to take any responsibility at government level.”

Across the town and hinterlands where Ruddy lives, houses are riddled with cracks and falling down owing to defective building blocks containing mica.

The scheme announced two days ago was the culmination of a 10-year campaign by homeowners who discovered cracks in their new-build houses in the years after moving in.

Many initially blamed the builders but it gradually emerged that the building blocks contained too much mica.

The scheme was billed as the solution, with compensation of up to €420,000 a home.

Paddy Diver, spokesperson for the Mica Action Group, said: “The only way this is going to be fixed is if the government brings in the housing authority to fix our houses.”

He accused the government of acting in “bad faith” and said the sliding scale element was sprung on them and was not part of the consultation process.

Campaigners are now talking about bringing a new protest “to close the streets of Dublin before Christmas” with possible support from lorry drivers and farmers.

Sinn Féin MP Pearse Doherty, who is from Donegal, called on the government to scrap the sliding-scale plan and “go back to the drawing board”. He said the scheme was “no use to families”.

Ruddy said the impact of the mica scandal on the mental health of both parents and children at her school was evident.

“I had one child come up to me yesterday to say ‘my daddy is in a dark place’. I do not know where we go from here,” she said.


Woman who got lost in Ikea warehouse after she was struck by flat-pack awarded €60,000 damages

A WOMAN who got lost for three hours in Ikea’s Ballymun warehouse, after she had been struck on the head by a falling flat-pack, has been awarded €60,000 damages.

Judge Cormac Quinn said in the Circuit Civil Court that she had suffered both physical and psychiatric injuries for which she was entitled to compensation of €40,000, together with €20,455 for special damages including a year’s loss of earnings.

Hannan Tababi (40) of Clarence Mangan Road, Dublin 8, told her barrister Eileen McAuley it had taken her three hours to find the exit from the Ikea store following the incident.

Ms McAuley, who appeared with Synnott Lawline Solicitors, said her client had been shopping for a chest of drawers in the bargain corner of the Ballymun, Dublin, warehouse in March 2016 when she had been struck by a large box containing flat-pack furniture.

Ms Tababi said the flat-pack box had been leaning against a wall of the warehouse the way a book would be placed upright on a shelf.

She was inspecting the label of a small box when a much larger one toppled, knocking her to her knees.

She said there had been no staff in the area to assist her, no signage warning of any danger and no strapping holding the box in place to prevent it falling.

Ms Tababi said she was dazed after the incident and visited the emergency department of St James’s Hospital the following day as she had been experiencing ongoing dizziness as well as pain in her left shoulder and hand.

She said she had lost her job in Apple as an IT technical support worker as a result of her injuries.

She had suffered mentally from the incident and had been diagnosed with Adjustment Disorder.

She experienced intense anxiety and low mood in the months afterwards and had nightmares about things falling on her or her children.

The two-day trial was delayed when barrister Conor Kearney, for Ikea, told the court that his instructing solicitor had just learned in court that a Covid test he had taken a day earlier had proved positive.

The case was adjourned to allow a deep cleaning of the courtroom.

Judge Quinn said Ikea had consented to his court having unlimited jurisdiction to deal with the matter, allowing him to make an award, if necessary, above the normal €60,000 jurisdiction of the Circuit Court.

He said that over the weekend he had carefully considered the evidence and particularly the various medical reports.


Jockey paralysed in horror fall WINS fight for millions in compensation after rival caused pile-up.

Freddy Tylicki has succeeded in his claim against Graham Gibbons over the 2016 fall at Kempton that paralysed him, the High Court ruled on Tuesday. Judge Karen Walden-Smith issued her judgement at 2pm, declaring: “The actions of Mr Gibbons were . . . undertaken in reckless disregard for the safety of Mr Tylicki.”

Tylicki said he was “delighted” by the news in a statement issued through Stewart-Moore solicitors. “It has taken five years for me and my legal team to overcome the injustice of the stewards’ inquiry which took place at Kempton immediately after the race,” the former jockey said.

“Today’s result has finally provided me with closure and I look forward to putting this all behind me and moving on with my life. I hope though that this judgement acts as a reminder that competing in a dangerous sport like horseracing is no justification for competing with a reckless disregard for the safety of your fellow competitors.”

The sum of money which must now be paid in compensation has yet to be determined.

The judge, who presided over five days of evidence and argument early this month, has identified a four-second period when Gibbons rode with what she calls reckless disregard, when he knew or ought to have known that his rival jockey was on his inside, within half a length of his own mount. She has ruled that Gibbons “did more than merely control Madame Butterfly to enable her to keep a racing line around a bend”.

“He exerted real pressure on the right-hand rein of Madame Butterfly in order to bring her across Nellie Deen’s racing line and did not stop bringing her in close to the rail, even after the first collision. Even if, which I do not accept is credible, Mr Gibbons was unaware of the presence of Nellie Deen until he heard the shout of ‘Gibbo’ from Mr Tylicki, he certainly knew of the presence of Mr Tylicki and Nellie Deen at that time and he does nothing to pull Madame Butterfly off the rail in order to give Mr Tylicki a chance.”

The judge adds that Gibbons’s actions “were not mere lapses or errors of judgement. This was a course of action that carried over a number of seconds and, while that might, in some circumstances, be considered a short period of time, in the heat of a horse race where jockeys are required to make split-second decisions . . . this was a sufficient period of time for a skilled jockey to make decisions”.

The judgement is sure to be much scrutinised in the coming days, being the first occasion on which a jockey has made a successful claim for damages against another jockey for a midrace incident. In particular, there will be questions about the future of the indemnity insurance available to jockeys and what it might mean for the sport if such insurance were to become unavailable.

With that in mind, the sport’s senior figures will take particular note of the judge’s concluding remarks: “I stress that the threshold for liability of negligence is a high one and has been determined as made out in this case, on its own particular facts. The finding does not set a precedent, either within horseracing or in sport generally.”