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breaking point Wife of man injured tending mica-ravaged home says 'somebody is going to be killed'

Homeowner fell 15ft from ladder in attempt to maintain couple's crumbling house

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Cracks have started to appear in the McLaughlin’s home due to mica

Cracks have started to appear in the McLaughlin’s home due to mica

Cracks have started to appear in the McLaughlin’s home due to mica

A woman whose husband broke his leg while trying to maintain their mica-ravaged home says she believes someone will be killed as a result of the dodgy structures.

Donna McLaughlin said her husband John could have died after he fell more than 15ft from a ladder while trying to paint their house in Carndonagh, Co Donegal, which is falling apart due to mica.

John spent a week in hospital and had to have a four-and-a-half hour operation after breaking his leg in the fall last Monday week.

She explained how John was painting the house this late in the year to try to maintain it a bit longer over the winter.

"John would normally do painting in May - but because you try and keep things lasting a bit longer that's why he was out in September when the ground was that bit damper.

"He was up on a ladder painting and the ladder went out from under him. He fell about 15.5ft on to his leg and he suffered a really bad break.

"It's ridiculous, somebody is going to be killed. It's only a matter of time," Donna said.

She said John would never have been on the ladder at this time of year but because of the damage their house is suffering he wanted to try to maintain it for the winter.

"These things are happening to people but nobody is highlighting it because they're embarrassed. At the end of the day, it wasn't his fault.

"It's something he has to do now to maintain the house.

"A house would only need to be painted every two to three years and now we're having to do it every year and the only reason he was out doing it so late was he was trying to get the paint to last that bit longer."

Donna said despite his serious injuries the situation could have been much worse.

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"He could have come down on top of his head. He would have been killed. I just wanted to highlight it. These things are happening to people and they're blaming themselves for being careless or whatever but it's not the case."

She explained how John is an Irish Army veteran and she used to fear for his safety when travelling on overseas missions.

"He was in the Army and he's been to different countries doing peacekeeping missions and you'd be worried he'd be killed but to think in the end his own house could kill him is the most worrying part about it," she said.

Thousands of homeowners in the northwest have been affected by defective blocks in their homes due to the mineral mica.

The McLaughlins built their house in 2005 but the problems started appearing in the last four years.

"It started at the back of the house with cracks at the back then it went on to the side, now it's about 100 cracks. This year the cornerstones have cracked up the middle. That was a bit of a shock," said Donna.

"It will get as bad as the others. We're only fooling ourselves if we tell ourselves it won't.

"We have damp in a house that's only 15 years old."

She said it could be months before John is back walking properly again.

"He was in the Army and is recently retired. We don't know what way it's going to be. He broke his tibia and fibula in his leg and fractured his foot. He had to have a four-and-a-half hour operation."

Donna said she wanted to highlight the issue because she feels others who are desperately trying to maintain their houses due to mica could end up injuring themselves as well.

"I wouldn't be on to anybody if this was an ordinary house and we were just careless or whatever. It's just getting so dangerous at this stage. Somebody is going to be killed. It could be from something like this or the house falling down on top of them.

"Is it going to take somebody to be killed before something is actually going to be done?"

Homeowners affected by mica are seeking 100 per cent redress from the government. Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien met with residents this week and gave a commitment that a current redress scheme for residents affected by the problem in Donegal and Mayo will be enhanced.

Homeowners claim that under the current redress scheme they could be left with bills of €100,000 to rebuild or repair their homes.

Affected homeowners who are part of a working group submitted proposals which were presented in a report to the minister this week, and he said he intends to bring a memo to Cabinet over the coming weeks. But Donna fears their recommendations will not be acted upon.

"The working group have worked so hard and have done an amazing job over the last six months but at the end of the day the government will just do whatever the government want to do. They're saying they don't have the money to help us out."

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