Fresh call for hardship fund to aid flood victims in wake of storm

A wave crashes into the jetty at Barley Harbour, Newtowncashel during stormy weather earlier this week. Photo: Declan Gilmore

A wave crashes into the jetty at Barley Harbour, Newtowncashel during stormy weather earlier this week. Photo: Declan Gilmore

Council officials are coming under increasing pressure to set up a special emergency assistance fund to assist flood-threatened Longford households.

The county, for the most part, escaped the worst of a storm which left large swathes of Munster under water and wind-battered western counties devastated.

Hurricane-strength gales forced many schools and workplaces to close while falling trees damaged cars and homes, cutting electricity to more than 260,000 homes nationwide.

The resulting clean-up operation, some commentators have predicted, could breach the €100m mark, figures Independent Cllr Mark Casey emphasised this week.

“In light of what has been happening, I think we (council) should put money aside for those that are in threat of flooding,” he said.

“There are people out there that really, really need it.”

The Lanesboro based representative’s comments came at a south Longford area meeting last Thursday.

It was an appeal which the meeting’s other five locally elected councillors were only too eager to support.

Cllr Sean Farrell, who is a farmer, said conditions over the past seven days couldn’t have been much worse.

That said, the Fine Gael representative agreed the county had managed to avoid some of the worst bouts of flood and storm damage.

“In the general scheme of things we (Longford) have gotten off quite lightly especially when you look at the Rossies and the tornado they have had,” said Cllr Farrell.

Chairperson and Co Longford Mayor, Cllr Larry Bannon was more direct as he stressed the importance of helping flood hit homes in the future.

Listening on, Director of Services Jack Kilgallon called upon those elected members present to highlight suspected hardship situations as they arise.

It was just as important, he said, that the council was thorough in examining which cases it assumed liability for.

“In a case where the council are responsible for water going in off roads we obviously have to take action, but not every case is the responsibility of the council.

“It’s not as simple to say that it is the council’s responsibility when a house has flooded.

“The council has to be very careful in taking responsibility for something that isn’t their responsibility.”

Cllr Casey was quick to respond, pointing out it was not acceptable for local authorities to sit back because of dwindling financial reserves.

He also spoke candidly of the difficulties facing one of his own constituents in dealing with flood related concerns.

“If this person is flooded, who is responsible?” Cllr Casey asked.

“It’s just frustrating to hide behind budgets when you are talking about young families.”




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