Nearly €3m of damage was caused to a number of roads and bridges in the coastal region of West Cork last September.
It led to several communities being cut off with work in some areas just getting underway to restore damaged infrastructure.
Cllr Michael Collins (Ind) said as a result of the storms, businesses in Goleen, Crookhaven, and Barleycove in the Mizen peninsula, along with neighbouring villages Leap, Glandore, and Union Hall, had all been severely hit by road closures for the past 66 days.
“The losses to some of these businesses could well lead to a closure of operations and a further loss of jobs in their communities,” Cllr Collins told colleagues at a county council western committee meeting in Clonakilty yesterday.
He claimed the situation was so acute in the Crookhaven and Goleen areas, some businesses only had one customer during a day.
“I know it’s an act of God but we should have some sympathy for them. We should at least look at the 66 days [for a rebate] for the time it has taken to get the work started,” said Cllr Collins.
In support, Cllr Paul Hayes (Sinn Féin) said: “I don’t think it would cost the council a lot, it would be a sign of good will and hopefully the [repair] works will be expedited in the next two to three weeks.”
He noted that the Government had recently anno- unced rates were to be reduced for major utility companies which had been notified to Cork County Council, after it held the annual budget meeting.
“As a result the council stands to lose €1.8m from the government decision.
“This wasn’t brought to our attention when discussing the budget. Giving the businesses a break would be a pittance in comparison,” he added.
Cllr Mary Hegarty (Fine Gael) said she was supportive of businesses but the council required the commercial rates to function properly. “It’s a difficult one,” she added.
However, Cllr Margaret Murphy-O’Mahony (Fianna Fáil) said the least the council could do was to provide the businesses affected with some rates’ discount.
Cllr Rachel McCarthy (Sinn Féin) said some big businesses would benefit from the government decision to decrease rates and, in this particular case, the council “should be siding with local, indigenous businesses”. She said she witnessed at first hand some of the problems local businesses had encountered.
Council officials said they were obliged to collect rates and did not have the power to provide waivers or discounts in such cases. Any changes was a decision for the government-run rates valuation office.
Officials added, however, the council’s rates’ collection personnel would probably look favourably at some kind of repayment plan for any businesses temporarily struggling.
Cllr Collins’s motion urging the Government to make an exception will be debated at a full county council meeting to be held shortly.