mica crisis | 

Man who spent 20 years working in US to build dream family home tells of mica despair

His voice breaking, father-of-three Mr Maloney (61), says all he ever wanted was a place for his kids to call home
Daniel Maloney and his daughter Amy outside their home

Daniel Maloney and his daughter Amy outside their home

Eavan Murray

Daniel Maloney spent 20 years in the US working and saving money to return to Ireland and build a dream home for his family.

In 1997, years of physical labour in New York paid off, his dream was realised. But today his home and his dream are crumbling around him.

The Maloneys' home is nestled under the 12 o'clock hill, near Sixmilebridge, Co Clare. It is one of the worst mica-damaged properties in the county.

Currently, 90 homes in Clare are impacted by mica, but Mr Maloney believes it's just the tip of the iceberg.

"I know with my hand on my heart people are afraid to come forward and face up to the fact they have mica. I understand because your life opens up to a nightmare," Mr Maloney said.

His voice breaking, father-of-three Mr Maloney (61), says all he ever wanted was a place for his kids to call home.

"We built this house in 1997, the year my daughter was born. I spent 20 years working in America to pay for it," he said. "We didn't realise until maybe 18 months ago that we had mica.

"But maybe in the last 10 years, there have been cracks on the gable of the house. The back door then started to stick, and we couldn't close it.

"Soon, all the blocks were cracked and broken.

"My daughter and I started painting the house, and I just looked at the back of the house, and I gave up we were throwing money into a hole.

"It takes an awful toll. We don't know where we are going to live in maybe six months.

"What are we going to do if it starts to crumble next week? Where are you going to go? People are so distraught they can't even talk about it.

"I try to be strong and not show how much it is bothering me for my family's sake. But it's hard.

"But after a while, you're left thinking, where do we go from here? Do we knock the house ourselves? But it would be impossible to afford it and pay rent.

"I have a 142-page report that says my house is only fit for demolition.

"My father-in-law is living with us, and he is 90 years of age. This man is blind, and he can't walk. He asks me most evenings did I get any news about the house.

"He lives in one of the rooms where there is a big crack.

"We try to protect him from the worry, but it's playing on his mind. You can see it.

"It's hard to see a solution for us. Am I supposed just to abandon it? What do I do? Do I cry? Do I hug her [my daughter] and say everything will be all right? My kids shouldn't have to live with this."

The mica crisis has seen families take to the streets to protest, with a further demonstration planned for outside the Dáil on Wednesday.

Mr Maloney finds the lack of accountability demonstrated by the quarries who supplied the infected bricks hard to reconcile.

"In this whole saga, I am quite disgusted that nobody has the guts to turn around and say to me or anyone else that they are sorry," he said.

"The quarries weren't regulated; how nobody saw this happening is beyond me.

"What is the likes of a small man like me who has a wife, three children and house not even worth a pittance supposed to do? Where do I go from here?"

Michelle and her husband Stephen Mansfield live in nearby Ballynevin, Sixmilebridge, and are faced with the same problem.

At the moment the government redress scheme for mica or pyrite affected homes is limited to Mayo and Donegal.

Michelle and Stephen are like many families who are waiting on tenterhooks to see if Clare will be included.

"We thought we had found our dream home here in Clare. But unfortunately it is crumbling around us," Ms Mansfield said.

"You have to keep living but it is a huge burden."

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