Mica crisis: Defective block scandal a 'humanitarian crisis', says rock climbing homeowner

Professor Paul Dunlop is a geologist and rock climber. Credit: UTV

by UTV Correspondent Gareth Wilkinson

Professor Paul Dunlop knows a thing or two about rocks.

He’s a rock climber who has represented Ireland.

He’s also a geology expert based at the University of Ulster.

Professor Dunlop understands  why his home in County Donegal is crumbling.

But he can’t do anything about it.

These days he feels safer climbing sea cliffs high above the Donegal coastline than in his own home.

It was built with defective blocks.

They contain Mica, a naturally occurring mineral that causes breeze blocks to absorb too much water.

They crack then crumble.

Professor Dunlop’s home will have to be demolished.

It’s one of an estimated five thousands across County Donegal affected.

Professor Paul Dunlop. Credit: UTV

The blocks were made in local quarries mining the very rock Professor Dunlop climbs.

A failure in regulation and enforcement meant mica content in the blocks was too high.

Homes have been destroyed.

Under the current compensation scheme homeowners still can’t afford to repair or rebuild their houses.

Second homes, including holiday homes owned by people from Northern Ireland are not eligible for any redress.

For months a campaign led by homeowners affected has put the  Irish Government under pressure to provide 100% redress.

A decision is highly anticipated.

It’s understood  tensions among Irish Government Ministers and officials has led to a lengthy delay.

Professor Dunlop has decribed what's happening as a humanitarian crisis.

He says time is ticking.

The rocks he climbs have stood for millions of years.

His home won’t survive much longer.