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Wednesday 17 September 2014

Kenny unveils €15m emergency fund

John Downing Political Correspondent

Published 05/02/2014 | 02:30

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Enda Kenny

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has defended the government response to the latest in a series of weather calamities and announced a €15m emergency fund for families hit by flooding.

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But as many parts of the country braced themselves for more wind, torrential rain and possible floods, Mr Kenny, right, insisted more aid couldn't be made available until the full extent of damage was assessed.

Mr Kenny has no immediate plans to visit flood victims in Limerick and elsewhere.

But President Michael D Higgins is planning to travel to Limerick and has already spoken with some of those affected by the weather.

Junior finance minister Brian Hayes visited Limerick earlier this week. The OPW minister is the most senior Government figure from outside the constituency to visit flood hit residents. Finance Minister Michael Noonan, the local Fine Gael TD for Limerick City, accompanied him on his visit.

Mr Kenny is in the Dail today, has meetings tomorrow and is in Paris for a meeting with OECD on Friday.

A spokesman said it was "looking unlikely" the Taoiseach would be visiting the areas.

As pressure increased for a swifter response to the latest bout of severe weather, Social Protection Minister Joan Burton said some €7.8m remains available in a separate hardship fund set up after flooding in 2009.

This money is also available for people on a means tested basis for immediate essentials.

There was considerable confusion yesterday afternoon about what money was being made available and how it was to be paid.

But last night officials said the €15m in additional funding was being paid through the Department of the Environment and was directed at emergency humanitarian situations.

In the Dail, Labour backbench TDs Kevin Humphreys and Ciaran Lynch raised the plight of families who cannot get house cover against flooding because they live in high flood-risk areas.

Mr Humphreys said that some 100,000 families were without cover, while Mr Lynch said insurance companies were too slow to adjust their risk-ratings in areas where millions of taxpayers' money had been spent on flood defences.

Irish Independent

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