Relief scheme for flooded businesses could be extended to Co Louth this week

Relief scheme for flooded businesses could be extended to Co Louth this week

Ireland’s deputy premier has said he hopes a scheme to support businesses affected by flooding will be extended to Co Louth this week.

Heavy rainfall brought by Storm Ciaran had prompted fears among residents and business owners already impacted by flooding in recent weeks, including Midleton in Co Cork and parts of Co Waterford.

Flooding hit Carlingford and other parts of north Louth on Tuesday, prompting calls for funds to be made available for repairs and to prevent any further damage.

A short drive away, Newry’s residents and shop owners were left reeling after the canal burst its banks on Monday night, submerging sections of the city under water.

Flooded fields in Co Down
Flooded fields in Co Down (Jonathan McCambridge/PA)

A status yellow rain warning is in place for six counties – Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Wicklow, Cork and Waterford – from 7pm on Wednesday until 7am on Thursday.

Irish forecaster Met Eireann said that rainfall brought by Storm Ciaran, combined with grounds that are already saturated and high river levels, may lead to flooding in these counties.

Irish Rail said the Belfast-Dublin Enterprise train service would not run on Thursday due to flooding between Portadown and Dundalk, and a bus service would be in place instead.

Irish deputy premier Micheal Martin said support for homeowners had already been extended to those living in the Cooley peninsula and other parts of Co Louth.

The Tanaiste said extending support for householders to Louth does not require Cabinet approval, but added that the business support would require ministers’ sign-off.

“That will be decided (at an) incorporeal meeting… hopefully this week,” he told RTE’s News at One programme.

The first scheme for businesses offers an initial 5,000 euro payment and further support of up to 20,000 euro based on the scale of damage to businesses.

A second scheme, set up in response to unprecedented flooding in Midleton, offers an initial payment of 10,000 euro to businesses and up to 100,000 euro after auditing and assessment.

Householders can access relief through the Humanitarian Assistance Scheme, administered by the Department of Social Protection, which was allocated an additional three million euro in funding by the Cabinet last week.

Income limit levels in order to qualify for the scheme were also increased, from 30,000 to 50,000 euro for a single person; 50,000 euro to 90,000 euro for a couple; and 10,000 euro to 15,000 euro per child.

The Department of Social Protection said that between October 18 and 28, 471 payments worth 261,775 euro have been issued to households affected by Storm Babet.

Of that number, 468 payments worth a total of 259,640 euro have been made to Cork households, while three payments worth a total of 2,135 euro have been made to Co Waterford households.

Mr Martin said: “In the first instance, insurance companies must also step up to the mark and do their part, but in areas where there’s been repeated flooding and where insurance is not available, the state will have to step in to help.

Micheal Martin
Tanaiste Micheal Martin said extending support for householders to Louth does not require Cabinet approval (PA)

“I think, more importantly though, is that we move on flood relief schemes and adaptation measures because what we are witnessing are climate events. These are not normal flooding events, these are climate events, in my view, and adaptation is going to be required.

“By that I mean, we’ve got to prepare our coastal regions to prevent erosion, and flood relief schemes to prevent the flooding of towns and cities, houses and the business life of the country as well.”

He added: “And I think we need to focus as much on adaptation just as much as we’re focusing on climate, because climate (change) is here and its impacts are now – they’re not going to be in 2050, they’re happening right now.”

Minister for Finance Michael McGrath visited areas in Co Louth affected by flooding on Wednesday.