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Kelly hopes EU fund will provide storm assistance

An EU fund created as a reaction to the severe floods in Central Europe in the summer of 2002 has since supported 23 European countries to the tune of more than €3.5bn.

The Solidarity Fund has been used for 56 disasters covering floods, forest fires, earthquakes, storms and drought.

Recent damage across Ireland, and the possibility of accessing EU funding to help with the clean-up costs, may be debated by MEPs during the European Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg next week.

Fine Gael MEP Sean Kelly yesterday called on the EPP Group — the largest political grouping in the European Parliament and to which Fine Gael is aligned — to support Ireland and to seek a debate next week.

Addressing his EPP colleagues in Brussels he urged them to support Ireland in accessing relief funding under the €1bn EU Solidarity Fund.

The South MEP, Ireland’s only full member of the parliament’s regional development committee which oversees the Solidarity Fund, is also due to meet the EU regional policy commissioner Johannes Hahn on the matter.

Mr Kelly described the storm damage in Ireland as "horrifying and unprecedented in nature".

"It is of critical importance that aid is directed swiftly to affected communities to ensure there is a quick reconstruction of the affected infrastructure," said Mr Kelly.

"Of particular note is the critical damage done to the infrastructure of smaller communities such as Tramore, Co Waterford, Lahinch, Co Clare, Foynes, Co Limerick, Rossbeigh and Ballybunion, in Co Kerry, amongst many other parts of Ireland.

"Bearing in mind extensive damage has also been done to cities such as Cork and Galway, including to critical flood defence infrastructure, the total bill for the recovery will stretch to hundreds of millions of euro and thus ensure that Ireland is eligible for the EU Solidarity Fund."