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Government has paid out only €44,000 from €25m relief fund

JUST €44,000 out of a total humanitarian fund of €25m has so far been paid out to victims of the recent floods, the Irish Independent can reveal.

The revelation came as the Government yesterday announced that a further €70m will be made available to cover the cost of damage caused by the recent floods.

However, homeowners and businesses are going to be further hit as flood and storm damage bills will shatter insurance records if the current freak weather spell continues.

Insurance Ireland said the estimated cost of claims relating to weather damage in December and early January is now €46m. But that does not include the estimated €50m in damage caused in just 48 hours by last week's floods in Cork and Limerick.

Ireland's previous record damages claims were lodged in the 'great chill' of January 2010 when Siberian temperatures and burst pipes caused €297m in damage nationwide.

Fears over rising insurance costs came amid growing complaints over the official response to the floods by the Government from those worst affected.

Joan Burton's Department of Social Protection last night confirmed that just 185 payments have been made in nine counties. Of those, 160 payments totalling €24,000 have been paid to victims in Limerick.

Ms Burton's spokesman insisted that departmental officials in the Community Welfare Service are "making every effort to ensure that support is provided to those affected as swiftly as possible".

However, victims on the front lines in Limerick, which was one of the worst-affected areas in the recent spate of flooding, last night complained bitterly over the pace of the official response.

"The response has been painfully slow and the people are scared that if they accept donations of furniture then they will lose out on funding. Many houses have had to be gutted and there has been no discussion with the government people," said Denis Ryan, of Star Rovers Football Club, Limerick.

The club has had up to 200 people a day come to its hall seeking assistance, but the feeling is quickly turning to anger over the pace of the response.

The Government is going to give €70m to councils to cover the cost of damage.

Insurance Ireland, which represents the main companies, said it estimated the cost of storm damage from December and January at €46m. It had received more than 8,000 claims – some 5,800 were from homeowners, totalling €19.5m, with another 2,225 claims for damage to commercial properties, amounting to €24m.

In addition, some 560 claims for damage to cars were submitted, which will cost €2.5m.

Irish Independent