EU bank may fund flood defences

Flood defences may be strengthened using funds from the European Investment Bank, according to Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore.

However, the Labour leader said there was little chance communities hit by the storms could avail of a separate European hardship fund.

Speaking in the Dáil, Mr Gilmore said the Government was still in discussion with the European Commission about accessing funding for flood relief.

However, the high threshold meant the country would require damage amounting to €700m to qualify.

Discussions were still underway to see if the special fund could be tweaked for certain parts of Europe, he said.

“It seems that we would probably qualify for little, if anything, from the Solidarity Fund as it is currently constituted. Therefore, we are likely to bear the cost ourselves.

“However, we are in discussions on how the fund might be adjusted on a regional basis to enable us to qualify for funding.”

Up to €70m worth of damage was caused by storms in December and January, mainly in western counties, to public amenities. Cork and Limerick were hit hard by recent storms, with estimates for damage to homes and businesses being compiled. A separate €25m fund will be used to address this.

Mr Gilmore said the Government was in discussions with the European Investment Bank (EIB) with a view to securing extra funds to help flood defences in the long term. The EIB already has pledged to give Ireland money for education and transport projects.

Answering questions from Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien, the Tánaiste said a memorandum of understanding was expected to be agreed with insurance companies in the next two months. It is expected to see the Office of Public Works, which oversees flood defences, sharing data with companies to decide on insuring properties.


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