Fianna Fáil General Election candidate Cllr. Anne Rabbitte has called on the Government to ensure that farmers in east Galway are adequately compensated for the damage and loss of earnings they’ve incurred as a result of the flooding crisis. Some of the packages announced to date are means-tested and many farmers will not qualify for the funding.
Cllr. Rabbitte commented, “The initial €5m package announced back in December was a welcome move but falls far short of what’s needed. Many farmers in south and east Galway have seen their land submerged underwater, and will be unable to use it for some time. Animals have had to be moved either into sheds, or to higher ground while other stock has been lost. These farmers livelihoods’ are in jeopardy as they are not getting the financial assistance to get themselves back on track.
“The land is completely saturated and will not be available for some time, but many farmers are being expected to continue on as normal. This is simply not possible. The Taoiseach says he’s holding “frank” discussions with the insurance companies, but he needs to go further. There needs to be measures in place to provide financial assistance to these farmers. Lip service is no longer an option. The Government needs to ensure that the compensation funds are available to everyone impacted by the flooding.
“We also need to examine the situation regarding the relocation of sheds and outbuildings. Many of the affected farmers will want to move their sheds to higher grounds after they were flooded in the past month. However, there needs to be clarity on the planning rules surrounding this. Are farmers expected to submit planning permission to move the sheds on their land or can an exemption be made for those impacted by the flooding to speed up the process?
“I am gravely concerned by the lack of commitment shown by the Office of Public Works to resolving the problem, even in the aftermath of some of the worst flooding Galway has seen in recent years. Only this week a meeting was held in Ballinasloe to discuss flood defences, however it emerged that the OPW are only examining the situation in the towns and have completely ignored rural areas. Who will cater for rural Ireland if the Government agency with responsibility for flood defences is unwilling to take hold of the situation?
“Flooding is becoming a more serious problem year on year. It is not good enough that the Government is not stepping up to the mark. We need to ensure that those who have been affected over the past 7 weeks are properly compensated, and that proper measures are put in place to guard against this flooding into the future, not just in the towns, but also in rural areas. Anything less is simply not good enough”.