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Friday 19 September 2014

€45m storm damage cash still unused

Published 30/08/2014 | 02:30

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Scenes of devastation at Lahinch promenade after storms ravaged the coast in January

the Department of Environment has said just €1.96m of the €17.1m it earmarked for damage repairs in the aftermath of last winter's devastating storms has been spent.

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The disclosure brings to €45m the amount in promised Government cash which has yet to be spent on repair works, a full six months after the last of the storms.

Confusion over how Government funding can be spent by local authorities and the level of red tape involved in drawing down the funds have been blamed for the huge sums which remain unspent.

In the aftermath of the storms, considered the worst in 143 years, the Government announced €70m would be made available for repairs and remediation work.

Most of the cash was to be allocated to city and county councils by a number of Government departments and bodies.

The Department of Environment said it had agreed to allocate €4m for clean-up and immediate works, with a further €13.1m for community infrastructure, some tourism infrastructure, as well as certain piers and harbours and local authority facilities. But, to date, just €1.96m of that has been drawn down. Discussions are taking place with the Department of Public Expenditure regarding much of the remaining infrastructural work.

The disclosure comes after the Office of Public Works said that just €400,000 of its €18.3m fund had actually been drawn down.

The Department of Transport said €4.1m of its €16.8m fund to repair roads had been drawn down by councils.

A spokesman said it was usual for local authorities to draw down more funding in the second part of the year.

Up to June 24 just €642,000 had been claimed, he said. Since then a further €3.45m has been drawn down.

Irish Independent

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