13 May 2017
By Bryan Smyth
Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has called on the Government to immediately investigate the possibility of applying for funding through the EU Solidarity Fund to support those affected by a recent spate of Gorse fires across the country.
Ireland has experienced a prolonged dry spell of weather with rainfall well below average in recent weeks. Over 100 gorse and forest fires have raged in many parts of Ireland during this period destroying homes, farmlands, forests and natural habitat areas.
“Now that the dry weather has receded, it is time for the clean up and repair works to begin.” said the MEP, she then continued:
“Numerous forestry areas and wildlife habitats across the island have been devastated by these fires and local authorities now need support and funding to carry out assessments in order for repairs to begin without delay.”
“These fires occurred in many locations and therefore it is up to the Government to come up with a co-ordinated response to carry out these repair works.
“The European Union Solidarity Funds are available to deal with these natural disaster type situations and I would urge the Irish Government to begin an application for funding immediately.
“This is far too important an opportunity to ignore for party political reasons.
“The damage caused by these fires is already estimated to have run into the millions. The threshold set to apply for funding can be met once a co-ordinated application is made to repair all areas affected.
“We are still very early into the summer season so I would urge people to show extra caution when walking on our mountains and to be aware of the dangers and damaging consequences of unregulated gorse fires.”
What is the European Union Solidarity Fund?
The European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF) was set up to respond to major natural disasters and express European solidarity to disaster-stricken regions within Europe. The Fund was created as a reaction to the severe floods in Central Europe in the summer of 2002. Since then, it has been used for 73 disasters covering a range of different catastrophic events including floods, forest fires, earthquakes, storms and drought. 24 different European countries have been supported so far for an amount of over 3.8 billion euro. Ireland has accessed the fund just once, after the 2009 floods.