Irish support for victims to reach €20m

IRISH efforts at fundraising for victims of the tidal earthquake in South East Asia are expected to pass the €20 million mark this week, as people pledge financial support on Irish aid lines.

Already €7m has been donated by the public, but the final figure could yet pass the Government’s official allocation of €10m.

Volunteers at the Irish Red Cross were taking donations by telephone all weekend and reported a “fantastic” response to the appeal. The organisation has so far raised €3m.

“We are continuously getting calls; the efforts are fantastic; we’ve had everything from people with their pension books to big credit card donations,” one volunteer said.

During a visit to the organisation’s Dublin office President Mary McAleese praised the “truly remarkable” response from the Irish public to the tragedy.

“It has been wonderful to see the outpouring of goodwill and kindness that has taken hold this week as people from every walk of life have dug very deep into their pockets,” she said.

“We cannot give life back to those who are dead but we can give life back to the living by supporting them in every way we can, in particular supporting them financially.”

Trócaire has taken more than €1m in phone, internet and bank donations.

“We’re concentrating on funding our partners in Sri Lanka to provide temporary shelter, clothing and food,” spokesperson Eimer O’Hare said.

GOAL has brought in more than €900,000.

Meanwhile, the General Council of County Councils has called on Minister for the Environment Dick Roche to sanction special leave arrangements for staff of city and county councils with specialised training who may wish to volunteer in the region.

Chairman Bill Carey said leave with pay should be granted to experienced water services staff, structural engineers and others with rescue training who could help relief efforts.

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