Sinn Féin delegation to meet with permanent secretary on flooding
A Sinn Féin delegation will meet the permanent secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs next week to discuss the ongoing response to the devastation caused by the recent flash floods.
The party’s agriculture spokesperson Declan McAleer said:
"I spoke with the DAERA permanent secretary on Thursday ahead of our meeting which is due to take place next week.
"I emphasised the urgency of the situation faced by farmers and the community in the Sperrins who have had their homes and farms destroyed by the flash floods. I said it was vital that the department moves swiftly to help address the situation.
"I suggested that there are at least three key issues that the department must address.
"Firstly, given the exceptional nature of what has happened, the Department must consider a hardship relief scheme similar to the one introduced by the former Agriculture Michelle O'Neill in response to the snow crisis in 2013.
"Secondly that clarity is needed for farmers that they will not now be disqualified from area based schemes such as Single Farm Payment as a result of the landslides and damage to their land.
"The department must get their officials on the ground to give advice and assistance to farmers on how to deal with the damage and the tens of thousands of tonnes of debris now deposited on the Holme fields along the valley.
"Last week when the floods hit, the local community and front line workers from TransportNI, Rivers Agency and Council rose to the challenge.
"It is vital now that DAERA and the other government departments also rise to the challenge and give people the help they need in this hour of need."