Following the massive widespread damage from the recent unprecedented floods, MEP for the region Luke Ming Flanagan is calling for all public representatives to work together to support the people of Inishowen and east Donegal. Met Eireann has classed the flooding as a ‘once in a hundred year event’; our response must mirror that, stated the MEP.
There are two immediate areas that need addressing ; 1) housing for the many families who have been left homeless, and 2) repairs to the road infrastructure, especially to the main roads leading into and out of the peninsula. As a matter of urgency, every effort must be made by the government at national level, and the council at local level, to address these problems.
In addition, longer-term measures and support are required to address the devastation visited upon family businesses, farms, crops and livestock as well as the destruction of recreational and sporting facilities. What happened in Inishowen on Tuesday is a natural disaster, a national disaster; it must be treated as such. This will require a sustained response and significant funding.
At the EU level there are funds available from what’s known as the Solidarity Fund. To quote the fund’s own website, ‘The European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) was set up to respond to major natural disasters and express European solidarity to disaster-stricken regions within Europe. The Fund was created as a reaction to the severe floods in Central Europe in the summer of 2002. Since then, it has been used for 76 disasters covering a range of different catastrophic events including floods, forest fires, earthquakes, storms and drought. 24 different European countries have been supported so far for an amount of over €5 billion.’
It is essential that work begin immediately to assess and quantify the damage and likely cost of reconstruction as applications to the fund must be made within 12 weeks of the disaster happening.
It is also worth noting that the Solidarity Fund is not a rapid response instrument for dealing with the effects of a natural disaster. Financial aid can only be granted to the applying State following an application and budgetary process which can take several months to complete.
“Our office has requested a meeting with officials in DG Regional policy to ascertain the level of funding available and the application criteria involved and is available to work with all interested parties for the benefit of the people of north Donegal”, concluded Mr Flanagan.