‘Victims may never return to homes’

THOUSANDS of people flooded out of their homes in the Republic may never return, it was claimed last night.

Junior minister Martin Mansergh, who oversees the Office of Public Works, said resettlement may be their only alternative following the devastation caused by the heaviest rain on record.

“I think relocation is inevitable in the case of some homes,” the minister said.

“People have said and some of them will say it even in a few weeks time when the floods have gone that it isn’t possible to go on living in particular areas so I think that is an area that is going to have to be addressed.”

Meanwhile, it has emerged that just €125,000 was paid out in emergency humanitarian aid to the victims of flooding seven days after homes were first devastated in Cork, Tipperary and Galway.

The Department of Social and Family Affairs said at the close of business on Friday community welfare officers had sanctioned emergency funds for 400 people.

This €125,000 was to ensure they had the basics of food, clothing and bedding after they were evacuated from their homes.

It came out of the €10 million relief fund announced by the Government last week.

However, Fine Gael’s Jim O’Keeffe said it amounted to just “buttons” compared to the amount of suffering endured by people.

Assistant Secretary at the Department of Social welfare Brian O Raghallaigh told the Oireachtas Committee on the Environment this was only part of the payment.

He also pointed to a separate humanitarian assistance scheme for damage to homes. Applications for this opened yesterday.

This is to help those whose homes were damaged and basic possessions destroyed but who could not have been covered by insurance.

The details of the means test procedure for this were posted on the department’s website yesterday and will cover anybody who cannot meet the costs of making their home liveable in again.


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