A group of international scientists and other experts have expressed shock and astonishment at the scale of the mica problem in Donegal and the length of time it is taking to resolve the problem.

The group visited a number of homes in the county today following a conference on the "Science and Societal Impact of Defective Blocks" held in Letterkenny yesterday.

Some of the scientists had already examined samples from homes in Donegal and today saw first-hand the crumbling homes and spoke to homeowners such as Sharon Moss who is at the end of her tether.

The group looked at the home of Sharon Moss in Donegal

It's seven months since Sharon and her husband applied to the redress scheme and the scientists who visited her home, which is riddled with damp and cracking inside and out, said it is very clear it should be demolished.

However, the family, who cannot use many of their sockets and have to eat in the living room rather than the mould-ridden kitchen, still have not had the official verdict condemning the house.

When that comes, their plan is to try to get a mobile home in their garden to live in.

Some of the scientists, like Dr Andreas Leeman of the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials and Science Technology, had already tested blocks from a number of homes in Donegal but said he was shocked when he saw them in reality.

He and other scientists believe that mica is not the main problem in Donegal but that there are other reactions and minerals such as pyrrhotite at play.

However, he said that when you see the homes, it really doesn't matter what is causing the problem, the important thing is that these people need help and he said it is "beyond him" that there is no streamlined process in Ireland to deal with the issue.

Debbie McCoy, a campaigner from Connecticut in the US, said the situation in Ireland is the worst she has seen, "and I have seen a lot".

Ms McCoy, whose business card reads "Concrete Queens - Leaving no stone unturned to right a wrong", said a problem with crumbling basements in thousands of homes in Connecticut began to emerge at the same time as mica in Donegal but they are well ahead in terms of remediation with hundreds of homes already repaired and the families back living in them.

Ms McCoy said in the US they have mastered the remediation scheme which prioritises the worst homes, with one company overseeing the work.

Professor Marisa Chrysochoou of the University of Connecticut said the scheme in the state is very effective and Ireland should look at replicating it, but she said they need to do it even faster given the scale and intensity of the problem here which she said was astonishing, with people living in homes full of mould and moisture.

Prof Chrysochoou explained that in Connecticut, because the homes are mainly made of wood, and the problem is in the basements, they were able to lift the homes and rebuild the basements before laying them back down again.

Dr Eileen Doherty of the Donegal Mica Action Group brought the experts around the county today, along with Professor Paul Dunlop.

They said that this is the first time that something like this has happened, that the Government has not brought in scientists in this way and now needs to listen to them and also learn from the experience in other countries.

While a redress scheme has been agreed, the view in Donegal is that the process is very lengthy and complex and there are many issues yet to be addressed.

Dr Doherty said there is something wrong with the system here and that immediate action has to be taken on a number of priority issues like the sourcing of emergency accommodation for people, particularly those whose health is impacted by the condition of their homes.