Donegal Minister Joe McHugh has confirmed a new permanent relief fund is to be set up to help communities, voluntary groups, sports clubs and businesses cope with the impact of major floods.
The move comes following the devastation wrought by the storms and subsequent flooding across Inishowen back in August 2017 - the impact of which is still being felt across the region today.
Minister McHugh said that Cabinet has this week agreed a proposal to set up a permanent fund scheme for flood-hit areas.
“This is something that I was hugely conscious of in the wake of the Inishowen floods in August 2017 and it should bring clarity to our humanitarian response and allow quicker payments to help people get back on their feet,” he said.
The proposal for a permanent flood relief fund was brought to Cabinet by Minister for Defence Paul Kehoe and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys. The Department of Defence operated temporary humanitarian support schemes in conjunction with the Irish Red Cross after flood events with four schemes opened since 2015, including the Inishowen response.
The permanent scheme will be administered by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.
Minister McHugh said: “We are aiming this at people who run their own businesses, small firms and voluntary and sports organisations. I raised the need for a permanent relief fund after what happened in Inishowen and this will mean Government response is no longer on a case-by-case basis.
“The community response and the government’s food relief work was second to none in Inishowen, both in supporting the immediate clear-up and then providing the money to ensure long-lasting improvements.
“More than €500,000 was paid out to businesses and clubs from the Red Cross Humanitarian supports; €10million was invested in roads; 300 stretches of road and bridges were fixed; Swan Park in Buncrana is being brought back to life with a €1.7million grant; sports clubs were reopened; hundreds of farmers given money to repair land and fences; as well as the humanitarian fund, emergency clean-up and new Irish Red Cross ambulances.
“This new flood relief fund will allow automatic payments of €5,000-€15,000 for businesses and organisations that have been refused insurance and then find themselves flooded.
“The government is trying to ease some of the anxiety around what can be a deeply traumatic experience. This new approach will ensure quicker payments and I hope that it gives people, businesses, voluntary and community organisations and sporting bodies the assurance that they need in a time of crisis.”