Government seeks EU aid as cost of storm damage tops €65m

Kerry council seeks to correct direction signs twisted in strong winds

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan said yesterday that while the initial estimate of the damage to public infrastructure stands at some €65 million, the amount to be sought from the EU Solidarity Fund remains to be decided. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan said yesterday that while the initial estimate of the damage to public infrastructure stands at some €65 million, the amount to be sought from the EU Solidarity Fund remains to be decided. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The Government is to seek compensation from a special EU fund for storm damage caused by the recent bad weather. While Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan told the first Cabinet meeting of the year yesterday that the initial estimate of the damage to public infrastructure stands at some €65 million, the amount to be sought from the EU Solidarity Fund remains to be decided.

Mr Hogan’s spokesman said the application to Brussels will be co-ordinated by his department once the five local authorities in question outline the first estimates of the cost of the damages.

According to the spokesman, the authorities will be instructed to complete this process within three or four weeks.

Mr Hogan’s report to Cabinet set out a preliminary estimate of some €35 million required for coastal works, about €20 million for road repairs and about €9 million for other works, including clean-up operations and the reinstatement of other infrastructure such as children’s playgrounds.

Remainder of the costs
The report said two-thirds of the total estimate was for works in counties Clare and Galway, with the remainder of the costs incurred in Waterford, Mayo and Kerry.

The €65 million estimate does not include the cost of damage to other public infrastructure such as the ESB electricity network, and private infrastructure such as Eircom’s telephone network.

Two local authorities released figures yesterday for damage in their areas, with Mayo County Council putting the bill locally at €4.5 million and Waterford County Council at €3.5 million.

In Mayo, clean-up costs are estimated at €300,000, while repairs to infrastructure will cost €4.2 million.

The storm and flood damage was worst in the Westport and Belmullet areas, with public roads temporarily impassable due to flooding or blockages by debris, the council said.

In Co Waterford, damage to the coastal area between Tramore and Dungarvan has been estimated at €3.5 million, according to Tramore area engineer Ken Walsh but “that will go up very easily, depending on the assessment of the damage”.


Financial assistance

Submissions are now being made to the relevant Government departments and agencies for financial assistance to deal with the aftermath.

Meanwhile, Kerry County Council said yesterday it planned to prioritise the righting of road direction signs twisted out of place by the storms. Complaints about bewildering directions have been flooding into the council since the storms on St Stephen’s Day.

In Killorglin, travellers are directed to Cahersiveen down a boreen and through a farm gate, while in Tralee town centre, signs were bent over by the force of the wind.

Mid-Kerry businessman John Paul O’Connor said visitors were “totally confused” and he called for a new method of bolting the road signs in place.