Deal raises hope more homes will get flooding cover
Hopes have been raised that flood insurance will be made available for homes at risk of damage from high tides or overflowing rivers.
Junior Minister Brian Hayes said he hopes a new agreement between the Office of Public Works (OPW) and representative body Insurance Ireland will lead to more communities getting cover.
The memorandum of understanding means that insurers can now access detailed data on flood defence works carried out by the OPW "in a format they understand", Mr Hayes said.
Currently, thousands of homes and businesses most at risk are unable to get insurance.
But from June 1, the OPW will provide information on the design, extent and nature of protection offered by 12 flood defence schemes.
The information will then be taken into account by insurers when assessing flood risk. However, Mr Hayes admitted the initiative will not guarantee flood cover.
It will "help underwriters and especially the industry to re-enter the market again where they see the State producing an engineering solution which resolves a problem".
He believes the industry is "very sincere" about resolving this issue.
"There's a commitment now to make this memorandum of understanding work. I'm not pretending it's the solution to everything but it's the first step on a road we need to take together," said Mr Hayes, who has responsibility for the OPW.
He said some €370m had been spent on flood relief works since 1995, with over 10,500 properties protected.
"What it does guarantee is that for the first time they have a systematic and verifiable exchange of information from us which will help their underwriters gain an appreciation of the work we've done," the minister added.
"We didn't have that understanding before, now we have it. It is an understanding that I hope will lead to more communities getting flood insurance cover that they deserve," he said.
The 12 schemes currently included are:
Clonmel (River Suir)
Dublin (River Dodder Tidal)
Dublin (River Tolka)
Dublin Fingal (River Tolka)
Duleek (River Nanny)
Dunmanway (River Bandon)
Ennis (River Fergus Upper)
Fermoy (River Blackwater)
Kilkenny City (River Nore)
Meath (River Tolka)
Mornington (River Mornington)
Tullamore (River Tullamore)