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Monday 11 December 2017

Higgins slams flood-aid rejection

John Downing

John Downing

A FINE Gael Euro MEP has strongly criticised the Government decision not to push for EU flood aid.

Jim Higgins said given the shortage of cash in the country, it was impossible to understand why the various government departments were adopting a negative attitude to the prospect of getting help from various Brussels funds.

“Our officials should be over here in Brussels meeting people and pushing our case. It is wrong to be so defeatist about things.  We got money in the past when people told us early on we had no hope,” the Fine Gael MEP told the Irish Independent last night.

Mr Higgins said that, back in 2009, Ireland gave out some €13m in EU flood aid, some of which went to help alleviate distress in south Galway. 

However, officials at the Department of Environment insist that Ireland is nowhere near the required criterion for the two EU aid options. The first is the EU Solidarity Fund, which compensates for natural disasters but requires damage and loss amounts to 0.6pc of Gross National Income, which would equate to €770m in Ireland’s case.

A Department official said that final estimates on the cost of the January/February storms were still awaited, but it is not expected to be more than €140m.

The second option is to make a regional application based on a particular area, be it county or province. But in this case 50pc of the population in the chosen area have to be adversely affected.

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