Saturday 24 February 2018

Government urged to seek EU funding to help with clean-up

Flooding in the Strand area of Athlone
Flooding in the Strand area of Athlone

Kevin Doyle and Greg Harkin

A day after European Union 'bureaucracy and bulls**t' was blamed for exacerbating the flooding problem, politicians have demanded the Government seek funding from the EU Commission to help with the clean-up.

After the 2009 floods, Ireland was granted aid amounting to €13m from the EU - but so far there has been no effort to seek such funding on this occasion.

The Government did not apply to the solidarity fund after last year's coastal storms, saying the damage did not reach a threshold required.

However, former MEP Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher said he found it "incredible" that the Government had not sought help.

"The EU Solidarity Fund is there to help states in the EU in times of disaster and what we are seeing all along the western and midland counties is a disaster," said Mr Gallagher.

"I believe we have met the criteria and even if we received just a few million euro it might help some of the communities suffering so badly now.

"There's no point in waiting until this situation gets any worse."

The Donegal politician wrote to Taoiseach Enda Kenny and OPW Minister Simon Harris earlier this week urging them to apply for EU funding.

In the Dáil, Fianna Fáil called on the Government to exempt homes that suffer flood damage from property tax.

Sean Fleming said such a move would show "common sense".

"It should be recognised by this Government rather than having it exploit a photo opportunity in boats, with cows stranded in fields and elderly people forced from their houses," he said.

In response Mr Harris accused the Fianna Fáil TD of being "extraordinarily partisan" and said flooded homes would have their values reassessed.

"We all need to work together on this," he said.

Irish Independent

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