Eileen McLaughlin Long from Inch Island thought she was building her forever home in 2005 until cracks began to appear ten years later.
The word mica was becoming more common as the cracks grew wider and wider.
After finally getting the money together for core testing the results of Eileen’s home were classed as full demolition.
Speaking at the Defective Concrete Conference, Eileen said mica was destroying her home but it was not going to tear her family apart.
The mother of three told an emotional audience about her son who was eight years old at the time offering his money box to help fix the house.
She also spoke about her daughter who was five years old at the time telling her baby doll she couldn’t sleep over because the house might fall down and her youngest who is three years old trying to fix the house with his yellow hard hat on and plastic tools in hand.
A teary Eileen told the audience her next step is to move into a second hand mobile home.
“When I was almost 19 years old I was in a crash and sustained a crushed fracture to a vertebrae in my lower back. Even now, 22 years later, I still have back pain and the one saviour to ease the pain in my back is a hot bath which I take almost every night,” she said.
However, soon there will be no bath.
A home she once took so much pride in is now described as being a prison with no escape.
However, this is just one family’s story, there are 6,000 homes affected by defective blocks in Ireland and this will not be the final number.
Ann Owens, an information officer and advocate for the citizens information service said there is never a day that goes by that she doesn’t have multiple enquiries from very distressed people about the defective concrete issue.
Ann also spoke about one of her clients, a woman with a teenage family who is undergoing treatment for cancer.
“She comes home from chemotherapy sessions each week to a home which is literally falling apart, the yard is littered with debris, the wall insulation is exposed and water is penetrating. The house is cold and damp she cannot heat it.
“She has been advised by her oncologist she must avoid stress at all costs while her family live in a house which is now dangerous,” she said.
Ann also spoke about a family with an autistic child who does not understand danger.
“On a wet and windy night this family have buckets at the ready to catch the rain that is driving through their home.
“What safety or comfort have these people whose homes are a ticking time bomb?,” she said.
Angeline Ruddy, a teacher in Moville Community College said everyone at her school is talking about mica.
“It is in the classrooms, it is in the staff room and it is in the corridors,” she said.
French, Spanish and Irish teachers no longer ask students to describe their family home as it has caused so much upset for the affected students.
Some students are even choosing not to go to college in order to fix their family home.
“In my 30 years teaching I have never seen anything impact on the entire school education like the stress and turmoil caused by living with defective blocks,” she said.
Angeline is also a home school liaison officer who visited many homes that were absolutely consumed by mica.
She met families challenged by illnesses, disabilities, mental health and unemployment and these are now the families affected by this catastrophy.
“Many of our children with special needs live in crumbling homes. A hoist is used by one child and that hoist is attached to crumbling blocks.
“The family have no option but to remain in the crumbling home as their needs are so specific and there is no opportunity of them ever finding alternative accommodation,” she said.
Angeline spoke of another family that has purchased two mobile homes as they care for two children with profound needs.
“This type of confinement is inhuman and this pattern will continue unless it is addressed,” she said.
Although all the speakers came from different backgrounds their stories were all the same.
Eileen spoke for them all when she said it is long overdue for those responsible to be held accountable once and for all.
“Do the right thing, give us closure, give us our lives back, build us our homes and allow us to finally live in peace,” said.
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