Relocation funding could provide relief to flood-risk properties

Minister of State for the Office of Public Works, Sean Canney, is working on a €2 million relocation scheme for households located in flood-prone areas.

The scheme, which has been described as a 'pilot', was designed to provide humanitarian assistance for those primary residential properties worst affected by the floods in the winter of 2015/2016 and for which there is no feasible alternative. However, when this came before a meeting of the Cabinet on Tuesday this week some members felt as though the terms of the scheme were too narrow.

Speaking this week, Independent Deputy Kevin 'Boxer' Moran said: "Some TDs had concerns with it. They didn't feel as though it was going to take in all areas that have been flooded. It is being tweaked now to see if we can broaden it. The changes were agreed in principle yesterday [Tuesday] evening, but it has to go back before the cabinet next Tuesday."

Deputy Moran said the plan is to roll out the scheme to see how much demand there is for relocation. If demand is high he says the Government may look at extending it, perhaps in time for the next Budget.

"There are people out there in a very vulnerable position in their homes," he said. "We have to allow them protection before winter this year, so that if they want to relocate they can do so. Hopefully, all going well, the Cabinet will approve it next Tuesday."

Mayor of Athlone, John Dolan, said: "There are people I know that would be interested. Some people suffered a lot in the last two flooding events, and I'd imagine they would take it. But I think the majority of people want to see a solution that will allow them to stay in their homes.

"We have to also ask what do we do with businesses that are affected, like those who own farms. They are entitled to move, but €2 million won't go very far for those people. So there are a number of questions that need to be answered. I certainly hope the scheme is only a pilot, because nationally we need far more funding. I myself would prefer to see the problems with the Shannon solved rather than people having to move."

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