Government response to flooding must match the scale of the problem – Stanley
Sinn Féin TD and Environment Spokesperson Brian Stanley, speaking during a special Dáil debate on the recent flooding crisis, has welcomed Government funding to help deal with the devastation wrought but stated that the assistance must be in line with the scale of the problem.
The deputy drew specific attention to the funding cuts in local authorities which have had a direct and debilitating effect on councils’ abilities to perform preventative measures.
The Laois TD said:
“While the government has announced funding to address the crisis, the response needs to be in line with the full scale of the problem and the damaged caused.
“In February 2014, I raised the issue of possible assistance from the EU. I believe we are in a position to make a strong case for a reappraisal at EU level of the criteria governing aid, particularly if such flood damage is going to be an annual event.
“In relation to where the central government funding is going; towards roads, coastal defences, infrastructure, and so on, we need to make the point that much of this is to compensate for cuts made to local authority allocations. The reduction in that funding has meant that the levels of outdoor staff have been reduced, meaning that when situations such as we have experienced recently have occurred that local authorities do not have the capability of responding as they would wish.
“It is also the fact that the reduction in funding has meant that many of the maintenance works on roads, bridges, coastal defences, water culverts and so on have not been carried out. This has meant that culverts for example have not been cleared and that this has greatly exacerbated the impact of flooding where it has taken place.
“The ability of local authorities to address the problems caused by severe weather and flooding has been negatively impacted by the raiding of the Local Government Fund to subvent Irish Water. That includes money collected through the Local Property Tax.
“I welcome the funding being made available to address the impact of the severe weather, but also urge that that be re-assessed given that unfortunately some parts of the country appear to be experiencing even worse impact than they have done in the past number of weeks.
“I would urge the Government to take a strong line with the insurance companies to clarify the situation regarding insurance cover and payments, as it is unacceptable that so many people find themselves being unable to claim compensation for flood damage.”