Friday 23 February 2018

Businesses hold out for relief funds as country braces for Storm Eva

Minister Simon Harris with Gary Sheridan, a tattoo artist in Ballinasloe, whose premises were flooded. Photo: Gerry Strong
Minister Simon Harris with Gary Sheridan, a tattoo artist in Ballinasloe, whose premises were flooded. Photo: Gerry Strong
Caroline Crawford

Caroline Crawford

As flooded communities continued the clean-up, the country has been warned to brace itself for another battering.

Storm Eva will hit before Christmas with wind speeds upwards of 120kmh.

A 'Status Orange' wind warning, issued for Donegal, Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Clare, will come into effect from 1pm today until midnight.

A 'Status Yellow' wind warning was also issued for Leinster, Cavan, Monaghan, Leitrim, Roscommon, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford until midnight.

Gusts are expected to reach 120kmh from 4pm-9pm and wind speeds of 65kmh in the worst-affected areas. Speaking in Galway as he surveyed the damage from Storm Desmond, Office of Public Works Minister Simon Harris appealed to all local authorities to return emergency relief applications as soon as possible to ensure businesses affected by flooding received compensation immediately.

His call came after meeting a businessman in Ballinasloe, Co Galway, who told him he was waiting two weeks for the funding - which should have been allocated within five days.

Mr Harris said his department had not come across any further delays but appealed to all councils to return any outstanding forms.

"In fairness to the Red Cross, they can only pay out when they get application forms back, so any local authority out there that has forms, please make this an absolute priority, stamp the forms and send them back so we can get payments to people. That's why the Government designed the scheme; that's why the Government put €5m into the scheme," he said.

Ciara Croffy, of the Ballinasloe Flood Action Group, told the minister that a number of business tenants were still awaiting the funding. These include Gary Sheridan, who runs a tattoo parlour in the town.


"It's two days before Christmas and we still haven't got it. I put in the application nearly two weeks ago. My business can't open, I'm not earning and it's not my fault," he said.

The minister said he had been made aware by Galway County Council that a large number of applications had been forwarded to the Red Cross this week. He said he would be making enquires with local authorities around the country to ensure the applications were fast-tracked.

The fund distributed by the Red Cross provides businesses with up to €5,000 without receipts, to provide immediate assistance.

"I'm highly complimentary of the positive role our local authorities have played during this storm, but it is absolutely imperative that they get the forms back to the Red Cross as quickly as possible," Mr Harris added.

One source told the Irish Independent that delays in accessing the fund can arise where applications may have mistakenly been made by both the landlord and the tenant.

The OPW will spend €430m on flood relief in the next five years.

Irish Independent

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