Fianna Fáil TD for Clare and spokesperson on Tourism Timmy Dooley is accusing the Government of holding back funding for storm repairs in Co. Clare. Towns like Lahinch, Kilkee and Doolin were severely battered by Storm Darwin back in February and communities are now working on the restoration effort before the busy summer season; however there are concerns about the level of funding made available by the Office of Public Works.
“This winter saw some of the most severe storms in recent history hit the west coast, damaging homes, businesses, roads and other essential infrastructure. Since the end of February work has been underway to repair all the damage, however the Government funding of €16 million falls well short of the mark. Clare County Council has estimated that the damage will cost almost €37 million to repair, but the Government has allocated less than half of that for the work. Minister Hayes’ short-sightedness is typical of this Government’s attitude to rural communities by leaving them fend for themselves in the aftermath of a crisis”, said Deputy Dooley.
“Kilkee in particular has been left high and dry as it was hit by one of the later storms and wasn’t included in the initial estimates, although the Council says it’s still waiting for the full amount of funding to come through. The Government’s reaction to this crisis is disgraceful, Ministers came down to witness the damage for themselves at the time of the event but it seems that as soon as they arrived back in Dublin they forgot about the problem entirely. Businesses in these west Clare towns and villages are dependent on tourism for their livelihoods, but there are real fears that tourists will be turned off these areas because much of the storm damage still hasn’t been repaired.
“These communities were left devastated by the winter storms, and the Government’s funding allocation is nowhere in the region of what is needed. Forty separate sites across the county were badly damaged, and the €16 million will simply not stretch to carry out sufficient repair work.
“I am extremely concerned that not all of the funding has been transferred over to the council, which is adding to the already long delays. Businesses and residents have only a few weeks to get essential work carried out before the tourist season begins in earnest. The last thing these people need is a summer of lost revenue because the Government is stalling the distribution of money. I’m calling on Minster Hayes to focus on his current job, rather than his European ambitions, and ensure that the money allocated to Clare County Council is transferred without delay so that local communities can attempt to rebuild their towns and villages in a bid to capitalise on the upcoming tourist season.