Minister: State paying for clean-up is inevitable

Many parts of the country are counting the cost of weeks of stormy weather, but Met Éireann has said the worst is over.

Minister: State paying for clean-up is inevitable

As the clean-up continued in areas such as Lahinch and Ballybunion, Office of Public Works Minister Brian Hayes said it is “inevitable” the Government will have to stump-up extra funds to deal with the scale of storm damage across the country.

“We wait to see exactly the assessment that comes in from the local authorities,” he said. “We already have funds there in 2014 which we will be extending right across the country,” he told RTÉ, adding that applications received from local authorities for restoration works and flood defences would be fast-tracked.

Last night marked the 175th Anniversary of ‘The Night of the Big Wind’ and yesterday John Eagleton of the Met Office said the recent burst of storms seemed to be over.

“The winds will ease and we will have normal weather now from now on to the weekend and into next week,” he said, although high winds and the risk of flooding persisted into last night.

The stormy weather which has battered much of the country on and off since mid-December was topped off by a combination of high seas, high tides, swollen rivers and gale force winds, something Mr Eagleton said was “rare but not unknown”. He believed there was a “variability” to the Irish climate which did not necessarily mean climate change was behind the kind of weather experienced by people around the country in recent days and weeks.

Professor John Sweeney, climatologist at NUI Maynooth, told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that too much shouldn’t be read into the extreme weather experienced on the east coast of the United States and the inclement weather here.

But he said if global warming was having an impact it could mean greater extremes of various weather types increasing in the future.

Yesterday around 5,000 ESB customers across the country were still without power as crews continued repair work, while various parts of the country were engaged in clean-up operations.

In Tramore in Co Waterford, a hole appeared on the road at Lady’s Slip near the town’s promenade, while at the tip of Co Clare at Loop Head a new island was effectively created when part of a secondary road was swept away. It meant a number of families were disconnected at Kilcredaun.

Michael Horan, Non-Life manager at Insurance Ireland, said: “An estimate [of the cost of the storms] will not be available for at least three to four weeks.”

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