Monday 23 April 2018

Minister vows 'money no object' for repairs costing 'tens of millions'

Transport Minister Shane Ross talks to Kathleen Molly in her flood-hit home in Burnfoot. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Transport Minister Shane Ross talks to Kathleen Molly in her flood-hit home in Burnfoot. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Money will be no object when it comes to repairing the damage caused by freak floods in the north-west, a minister has promised.

The bill is expected to run into the tens of millions, but Kevin 'Boxer' Moran, minister with responsibility for floods, told the Irish Independent he will not allow people to suffer.

"It's emergency work and we have to find money no matter what happens," he said.

Mr Moran and Transport Minister Shane Ross visited Donegal last night to see first hand the damage caused when almost 10 centimetres of rain fell in the space of a few hours.

"We talk about what happened in Athlone over five or six weeks in 2015. What people went through in an hour is devastating," Mr Moran said.

The Westmeath TD said he would insist on the Government bringing a swift response to Donegal and other affected areas - unlike what has happened during previous incidents in other parts of the country.

"I can understand the devastation. My heart goes out to the families and people affected by it. I've been on to Department of Finance and Department of Transport to make sure we get cracking on whatever money is available.

"We won't have people suffering. I was receiving calls right up to 2.15am. I could sense from people's voices that it was like what I witnessed in 2015 and 2016 in Athlone."

Speaking as he visited Kathleen Molloy's house in Burnfoot, Co Donegal, he said: "I'm here tonight to assess the situation and talk to the people and to assure the people that I'm the minister in charge in relation to delivering the funding [to this area].

"That's the commitment I'll give to the people - 100pc. I'm a man of action, people have known me from the flooding in my days in the Athlone area.

"For the first time ever we have a massive chunk of money in relation to funding - trying to help people affected by flooding."

Tragedy

Mr Ross, speaking in Burnfoot, said: "This is a very human tragedy and I'm going to see what the damage is and talk to the engineers and local officials.

"It's a once every 200 year freak [disaster] so I don't know if you can prevent something like this from happening again, but if there are any measures that are necessary [to take] we'll look at them. There's an awful lot of damage done to roads, bridges and houses but this is a human problem too.

"We deeply sympathise with those who have been so terribly affected by flooding and other consequences of the weather."

Climate Change Minister Denis Naughten warned: "Severe weather events like the ones we've seen over the past 24 or 48 hours are going to happen more frequently.

"Funding is going to have to be put in place on a more regular basis to deal with damage to infrastructure."

And Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy said the Government needed to come up with a new approach to deal with extreme weather conditions.

"The scenes of utter devastation witnessed last night cannot be repeated. Roads and bridges have been swept away rendering some areas inaccessible; there were reports of people unable to make it home, while others were stranded in isolated areas.

"There needs to be a more co-ordinated strategy in place involving the local authorities and the civil defence," he said.

The party's transport spokesman Robert Troy also called on Mr Ross to make emergency funding available to fix damaged transport infrastructure.

The Government has pledged to provide emergency accommodation for those who have been left homeless after the floods.

Irish Independent

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