Sunday 22 July 2018

Confusion as soldiers sent to help locals are delayed

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar arrives by helicopter. Picture: Caroline Quinn
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar arrives by helicopter. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Ian Begley

There was confusion in Donegal as locals waited for the 35 soldiers sent to help after flash flooding hit on Tuesday night.

Flood-hit communities in the north-west were expecting the platoon to be deployed at 9am yesterday to help with the flood relief.

However, some affected housing estates didn't see the Army arrive until after 1pm.

A spokesperson from the Irish Defence Forces told the Irish Independent the delay was due to the local council deciding on what areas needed the most attention.

"The county council were still assessing what areas to assign the Defence Forces personnel to, so they asked if they could push back their timing until noon.

"They were given their briefing in Letterkenny and were then deployed around different locations. Their primary role is providing manpower and working in a mobility role.

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At approximately 1pm yesterday, members of the 28 Infantry Battalion arrived at Pairc an Grianan in Burnfoot, Co Donegal.

They helped many families remove ruined furniture and possessions from their flood-damaged homes and assisted council workers in their duties.

Commenting later that day, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he did not know the reason for the delay.

"I can't say exactly why that was, but I'm not sure how relevant it is, whether the Defence Forces arrived at nine or one.

"The important thing is that they did arrive and were tasked to be here. Additional support will also be provided from more Army personnel if needed," he said.

The Red Cross was also being sent to Donegal to administer a flood relief scheme for small businesses.

More than 100 people had to be rescued from cars and houses due to sudden flash flooding in Donegal, Tyrone and Derry on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Across Inishowen alone, the scale of the disaster was described as unprecedented and catastrophic, with the Irish Government opening an emergency fund for immediate assistance and clean-up.

The damage is expected to run up a repair bill in the multi-millions.

Irish Independent

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