Taoiseach 'didn't mean to cause alarm' - but insists it's a 'definite possibility' people could be 'found dead' after Storm Emma
- 'It is a definite possibility that people could be found dead in their homes after Storm Emma' - Taoiseach
- 'We felt the full force of Mother Nature in recent days'
- No estimate for damage costs yet
- Appeal for people to 'avoid A&Es if possible' in coming days
- Emergency funding to get the country back on track 'is not budget-capped'
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar "didn't mean to cause any undue alarm" with his comments, but insisted it is a "definite possibility" that people "could be found dead in their homes" after Storm Emma.
Speaking this morning, the Taoiseach stood behind his comments during a visit to snow-covered Wexford yesterday, when he said he was fearful of people being found dead in their homes in isolated areas in the coming days.
"That's my fear," he told RTE Radio One's Morning Ireland.
"I didn't mean to cause any undue alarm, but it is a definite possibility in the days ahead, in the coming days as we gain access to homes in some of the areas that were cut off.
"We did have a number of fatalities in the last couple of days," Mr Varadkar continued.
"It is not possible to say whether those unfortunate deaths would have happened anyway, but it is a possibility that they mightn't have if it wasn't for the weather.
"We felt the full force of Mother Nature in recent days, it was the worst snow storm in 35 years.
"And while people are back at work today, it will take days before things get back to normal, especially in Wexford, Kildare and Wicklow."
Speaking about emergency funding for people and businesses after the storm, the Taoiseach said the Government do not have an estimate for the damage or emergency funding yet, but said it usually takes a couple of weeks to assess the cost of the same.
"As is always the case, local authorities will require additional allocation to repair the roads, yes, they will get it, it will be properly assessed," the Taoiseach said.
"We are asking people to conserve their water, the demand is high and the supply is low.
"In particular, we are asking people to be careful while they are walking and driving and doing repairs, people were much safer while they were indoors and we know from Storm Ophelia that many of the accidents and fatalities happened afterwards while people did repairs.
"We're also asking people to avoid the A&Es and to use minor injury clinics.
"I think it will be a difficult week for hospitals - it will be more like the first week of the new year, rather than the first week of March."
He said he thinks it will take between seven and 10 days for health teams to make it through the backlog.
Mr Varadkar said the emergency funding to get the country back on track is not budget-capped and is a demand-led scheme.
"Once the assessment is done, additional resources will be provided by the Government," he said.
"The Department of Social Welfare have a whole team of community welfare people, if people need to contact them. There is a fund there and last year 100,000 people received emergency pay-outs.
"It is not budget-capped, it is a demand-led scheme. It's not money that runs out, it is not budget-capped, you don't need to be a social welfare recipient to apply, it is not means tested.
"So if someone has an urgent need, they can go to their community welfare officer."
The Taoiseach said he was also eager to thank the emergency services, organisations and charities that continued to work throughout Storm Emma to keep the country moving.