STORM #OPHELIA: Irish Government must apply for EU natural disaster fund – says Cork MEP

17 October 2017
By Elaine Murphy
elaine@TheCork.ie

Sinn Féin Cork based MEP Liadh Ní Riada has called on the Government to immediately contact the European Commission regarding the European Union solidarity Fund (EUSF) in the wake of Storm Ophelia.

Liadh ni Riada MEP

The fund was set up in 2002 to help Member States deal with the aftermath and clean-up operations necessary following natural disasters. Applications to access this funding need to be made within 12 weeks of damage occurring.

The Ireland South MEP made the call as the massive repair operation now required following the storm gets under way.

“It is absolutely essential now that the Irish Government makes immediate contact with the European Commission and sets in place a framework for applying for this essential funding,” she said.

“Early estimates indicate over €800m worth of damage has been caused throughout Ireland. The current threshold which would allow us access to the fund in terms of monetary damage is 0.6% of Ireland’s GNI. Storm Ophelia has caused significantly more damage than this.

“Local Authorities and Communities need aid and assistance as soon as possible. An advance payment of up to €30m can and should be requested”

“Storm Ophelia caused damage to life, limb, private property and public infrastructure. I want to commend all frontline emergency services in limiting the damage to all of the above concerned.

“I would also like to extend my deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in harrowing circumstances.

“As a Co-ordinator on the Budgets Committee in the European Parliament, I have consistently voted to release funds to damage stricken areas. Italy and Portugal, for example, have significantly benefitted from funding for rebuilding after their recent disasters.

“This year there is €563m available and when you add in the remaining budget from last year of over €500m it means more than €1bn is in place to support Member States.

“The Irish Government must open lines of communication with the EU Commission as quickly as possible to ensure we make this process seamless and get much needed support to the areas that need it.”