A city councillor has described as “appalling” the response of the Galway City Council to city traders whose businesses have been effectively destoyed by the recent storm surge.
Salthill based Fianna Fáil councillor Peter Keane made his comments following last Monday night’s meeting of Galway City Council during which he called for a emergency contingency fund to be set up to assist businesses in the worst affected areas. A motion proposed by Cllr Keane called for the council to use this year’s city marketing and promotion budget to provide this emergency contingency fund, however, city manager Brendan McGrath recommended that it should not be adopted.
"Surely we have a duty of care to our ratepayers in circumstances where their businesses have been severely damaged by recent flooding and who find themselves without insurance because of previous flood damage. The managers report was heavy on fact but light on solutions for businesses," said Cllr Keane, who confirmed that the council, in law, is powerless to apply a write-off in rates for businesses which have suffered following the recent storms
Cllr Keane explained that his motion was for the council to administer an emergency fund to help ratepayers pending a financial suite of solutions coming in due course from central government. “We are only talking about a half a dozen business and the manager’s comments that Galway City Council should not administer such a fund is unacceptable to me and my Fianna Fáil colleagues in City Hall. While I welcome comments from the OPW that funding will be made available, this is funding earmarked for infrastructure projects only and does not apply to businesses,” he said.
City manager Brendan McGrath told councillors at Monday’s meeting that it was “regrettable” that such damage was caused to premises but there were a lot of “practical implications” to passing the motion. “We don’t know who has or hasn’t insurance. The OPW highlighted that its support is part of a suite of supports. The Government will be debating the issue this week. I would be weary of the precedent the motion may cause in relation to other events in the future not just in Galway. Until we know the full sweep of aid I think it would be premature to pass the motion.” The motion was then deferred until February.