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pyrStatements were made on the report of the pyrite panel on October 18th 2012 in the Dail. In his submission to the house Deputy Wallace calls on the Government to take charge of the situation and help the homeowners affected. The immediate priority should be the homeowner while the part of the quarries, Homebond, the CIF and the financial institutions need to investigated. You can watch his speech here or read it in full below.

Mick Wallace: If I was a home owner in the Visitors Gallery listening to the Minister's contribution, Pontius Pilate is the first image that would have to come to mind. I realise that the Government parties are aware of many of the problems now but it is not good enough that the State is saying that it has to go after different guys. It should go after them in due course but the problem the people affected face needs to be dealt with now. The Government must be upfront, fix the problem and then it can chase the people responsible. The Minister cannot just ignore this. The private sector works under the watch of the State and the Minister cannot walk away from responsibility. As Deputy Daly pointed out, the Government did not cause the abuse in religious institutions but it took responsibility for it. The Government might not necessarily have caused the behaviour of the banks but, because the Financial Regulator was not doing his job, it took responsibility for the banks and bailed them out. How in God's name can the Minister not see that the State has a responsibility to deal with this matter upfront? The affected home owners cannot be expected to chase the quarries. They cannot even deal with the likes of HomeBond, which has reneged on its responsibilities. They certainly cannot deal with the CIF and God knows they cannot deal with the financial institutions. The blame lies everywhere. We can start with the quarries. The stone was not fit for purpose. If I bought loads of stone and it was delivered to the site, I would not have been in a position to test it when it arrived. I could be forgiven for thinking that it was fit for purpose when I bought it. Getting the quarries to take responsibility will be a major problem because some will say they have X amount of responsibility and others are more to blame because the quality of stone varies. Some quarries have a higher content of limestone while others have a higher shale content, which is more liable to result in to pyrite problems. There will be huge division between the quarries as to who will take responsibility. I reiterate the comment of the previous speaker about the regulation which permits 0.6% sulphur content in Irish stone whereas it is 1% in Britain. How in God's name can we stand over that? That is outrageous. This facilitates the serious players because they think they can get away with a little sulphur in their stone and they will get away with less than they would in Britain and that is not good enough. It is a minimum requirement that we follow the British regulation if for no other reason than to be on the safe side. The fact that the aggregates panel is dominated by people with a vested interest means it would have been difficult to expect them to come to a different conclusion. The notion that HomeBond is responsible for structural defects is a myth. HomeBond has been a disgrace and a disaster. The company was not even good to work with in the industry because the amount of checking its staff did was minimal. It was a poor organisation which was geared more towards making money than acting as a regulator. Phil Hogan:   They are the Deputy's people. Mick Wallace: I agree; I do not say the building industry was clean. Plenty of people in the industry behaved poorly. The link between the builders and HomeBond was too strong and cosy. Why is the Government even talking to them anymore? These people should not be tolerated. The Minister should have nothing to do with them. Phil Hogan:   Perhaps the Deputy can use his good offices. Mick Wallace: It is outrageous to suggest that the financial institutions do not bear responsibility. If they gave the people affected by pyrite mortgages for their homes, then they sent someone out in advance of drawdown to see if it was safe to part with their money. The agreement was signed off with the banks deeming the homes to be worth the money before granting the mortgages. Now they will walk away from home owners, which is outrageous. The Government must hold them to account. If ten houses in an estate of 100 houses are found to have pyrite, it is outrageous that the other 90 are not tested because they are no good to the people residing in them. The owners can never sell them because the houses are under suspicious of having pyrite unless it is proven that they do not. If I had the job of testing 100 homes together, I could do it at a fraction of the cost of doing them individually. Any estates with pyrite should be tested so that each house can be certified as clean. Otherwise, it is a stone around the neck of the owners.

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Namaleaks is a project that seeks to uncover possible injustice and poor practice related to NAMA (National Asset Management Agency) and financial institutions in Ireland.


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