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Cars seen submerged in the flood water on Friday in Midleton, Co Cork GUILEEN COAST GUARD
Cork

Tánaiste says schemes on a ‘scale we haven’t seen before’ required after Midleton flooding

The Tánaiste added: ‘It’s clear that something significantly extra is required here now.’

LAST UPDATE | Oct 23rd 2023, 12:00 PM

TÁNAISTE MICHEÁL MARTIN has said schemes “on a scale that we haven’t seen before” are required after recent flooding in Midleton in Co Cork.

Hundreds of homes were flooded in Midleton last week and cars were submerged in flood waters following Storm Babet.

Speaking this morning at a Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg, Micheál Martin said he spoke with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar over the weekend, as well Rural and Community Development Minister Heather Humphreys and Finance Minister Michael McGrath.

The Tánaiste added that he will be speaking to Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe later.

MM 231023 Tánaiste Micheál Martin speaking at the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg this morning European Union European Union

“I’ve been to the area,” said Martin.

“This was a climate event of a huge scale, which has really devastated the businesses in Midleton, many people who had just bought their houses, having them destroyed.”

Martin was asked by reporters if payments in excess of €70,000 would be available for businesses impacted by the flooding.

Current relief schemes are ‘not appropriate’

Enterprise Minister Simon Coveney will bring a memo before Cabinet tomorrow seeking a significant increase on the existing scheme which caps payments to businesses at €20,000.

Martin noted that there are two schemes currently in place, one for households and one for businesses.

However, Martin added that the government is “looking at revising the existing schemes” because “we don’t believe they’re fit for purpose”.

“I think the interventions will have to be on a scale that we haven’t seen before,” said Martin.

“I don’t want to get into the specifics because the cabinet has to discuss this, but it’s a collective all-party decision,” he added.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One this morning, Coveney confirmed that he would be bringing a memo forward to extend the business relief schemes – hinting that the €5,000 initial payment could be doubled for those in Midleton.

Coveney said: “What I’m doing now is putting a proposal together, for government, that we would be able to apply the scheme as it is currently to parts of Cork that were flooded, but weren’t devastated by floods.

“And then to have a second scheme, that the Red Cross can apply, when appropriate – particularly in Midleton – with with much higher thresholds, where businesses will get a higher initial payment…”

Coveney added that the new scheme for those in Midleton will be “in and around double in terms of the initial payments”.

Currently, those in impacted by floods can apply, through the Red Cross, for a €5,000 initial relief payment where an adjudicator will visit the property on a later date and assess if an additional €15,000 can be availed to.

In this circumstance, which Coveney too said was the worst damage he has seen from floods in his political career, the minister believes this scheme would not be “appropriate” for those in Midleton.

Coveney told the Today with Claire Byrne programme: “Clearly those limits are not going to be appropriate for the level of damage that we’ve seen in Middleton and in some cases, individual businesses and sports clubs and so on, in other parts of East Cork.”

James O’Connor, Fianna Fáil TD for East Cork, suggested that the overall cost of this relief fund could exceed €100 million.

Coveney said he wasn’t sure where O’Connor had gotten the figure but said that there are multiple different support measures that the government need to implement for both businesses and homeowners.

Coveney said that an investment, seen in other parts of Cork, has helped to ease the damage done to towns during the events.

“OPW do a good job when they can actually get planning permission agreed and so, and that’s what we need to do for Midleton. But in the meantime, we need to get businesses back up on their feet,” Coveney said.

Martin said: “We all saw it firsthand, and we listened to the people on the ground, both those living in homes and living in businesses.”

“It’s clear that something significantly extra is required here now, to enable the households to get back into their homes – many are in hotels at the moment – and to enable businesses to get off the ground and their employees back working.”

A Status Yellow warning for rain is currently in place across Co Cork and will remain in place until 4am tomorrow morning. 

Includes reporting from Muiris O’Cearbhaill

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