Councillors call for extension of Red Cross flood aid

Westmeath County Council is to write to Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly to request that Red Cross aid for flood victims be extended to assist those who have put flood defences in place at their own expense.

Speaking at Monday's county council meeting, Cllr Kevin 'Boxer' Moran raised the plight of people in Athlone and surrounding areas who have been left out of pocket after putting flood defences in place around their homes. At present they are not eligible for Red Cross humanitarian funding.

"We should write to Minister Alan Kelly to make a concession on behalf of these people, they should be looked after," he said. His proposal was seconded by Cllr Michael O'Brien, and councillors unanimously agreed that the request be sent to the Minister.

Cllr Moran also suggested that a three-person committee should be established to discuss how to prevent future flooding in the town and rural areas.

He thanked the various bodies who had been involved in the flood defence efforts over the past eight weeks, including the council executive and staff, local anglers, the Army, Civil Defence, Gardaí, Order of Malta, Red Cross, Irish Water, RNLI, OPW, and the Department of Social Protection.

He also praised the many volunteers who had given up their time to man or repair pumps, and the individuals and businesses who had supplied volunteers with food and other assistance.

The last pump was switched off in Athlone on Monday; however sandbags and other flood defences are to remain in place for a period of time. The level of the river Shannon has fallen 83cm since its peak on January 5, and a clean-up operation has commenced.


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