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£1.3m funding to help bolster existing flood defences

Published 11/01/2016

Flooded fields near Dungannon, which was among the areas affected by the rising water levels in Lough Neagh
Flooded fields near Dungannon, which was among the areas affected by the rising water levels in Lough Neagh
Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O'Neill with local farmer Jimmy Maguire, as she views the impact of flooding on homes, roads and farmland at Innishroosk outside Lisnaskea. PA
Minister Michelle O'Neill with local farmers, Gary McManus and Bridget McCaffrey (right) and Kathleen McCaffrey (left), as she views the impact of flooding on homes, roads and farmland at Innishroosk outside Lisnaskea. PA
Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O'Neill with local schoolchildren, Kathleen McCaffrey (left) and Sean McCaffrey (right), as she views the impact of flooding on homes, roads and farmland at Innishroosk outside Lisnaskea. PA
A cottage is cut off by the flood
Farmer Roy Allen stands in one of his fields
Flooding near Portadown
Gerry Hagan, from the Rivers Agency, operates a pump at the home of Jimmy Quinn from Derrytresk, near Dungannon

Northern Ireland's £1.3 million share of UK flood response funding will be spent bolstering defences against future deluges, Stormont ministers have agreed.

Executive ministers met in Belfast on Monday evening to discuss the recent flooding incidents around Lough Erne and Lough Neagh.

Around 30 homes and business were flooded over the festive period, with many rural roads closed due to high water levels.

Earlier at the Assembly, Agriculture minister Michelle O'Neill told MLAs the level of loughs Erne and Neagh had begun to fall.

The Executive meeting came hours after Secretary of State Theresa Villiers heard about the multi-agency response to the flooding on a visit to the Toome flood gates, which help drain Lough Neagh.

Northern Ireland has been allocated £1.3 million of the £51 million Chancellor George Osborne made available last month to aid the UK's flood response.

After the meeting at Stormont Castle, an Executive statement said: "The Executive today agreed to spend the full £1.3 million of additional funding for flooding on preventative measures and preparedness to mitigate future incidents."

The three departments dealing with the flooding - Environment, Regional Development and Agriculture - are to work with the Finance Department to bring detailed spending proposals to the next Executive meeting on January 21.

The statement added: "Ministers paid tribute to all those who worked through the holiday period in difficult and sometimes dangerous conditions to bring relief to those affected by flooding.

"There was a full discussion on how resources can be best used to limit the impact on people, properties and businesses.

Soldiers from 2 LANCS rest for a few minutes awaiting the next task as the British Army assists the Environment Agency with the Christmas floods (Ministry of Defence/PA)
Soldiers from 2 LANCS rest for a few minutes awaiting the next task as the British Army assists the Environment Agency with the Christmas floods (Ministry of Defence/PA)
A Christmas wreath hangs on the door of a house on a flooded residential street next to the River Foss, after it burst it's banks in York, northern England, on December 28, 2015. British Prime Minister David Cameron visited the flood-hit historic city of York on Monday as cities, towns and villages across northern England battled to get back on their feet following devastating storms. Around 500 properties were flooded in York, one of Britain's top tourist attractions, on Sunday as two rivers burst their banks. Some residential streets became so inundated that cars were covered up to their roofs. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLISJUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Furniture is seen piled high in the window of a house on a flooded residential street next to the River Foss, after it burst it's banks in York, northern England, on December 28, 2015. British Prime Minister David Cameron visited the flood-hit historic city of York on Monday as cities, towns and villages across northern England battled to get back on their feet following devastating storms. Around 500 properties were flooded in York, one of Britain's top tourist attractions, on Sunday as two rivers burst their banks. Some residential streets became so inundated that cars were covered up to their roofs. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLISJUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images
A flooded residential street is pictured next to the River Foss after it burst it's banks in York, northern England, on December 28, 2015. British Prime Minister David Cameron visited the flood-hit historic city of York on Monday as cities, towns and villages across northern England battled to get back on their feet following devastating storms. Around 500 properties were flooded in York, one of Britain's top tourist attractions, on Sunday as two rivers burst their banks. Some residential streets became so inundated that cars were covered up to their roofs. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLISJUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images
A submerged car is pictured on a residential road next to the River Foss after it burst it's banks in York, northern England, on December 28, 2015. British Prime Minister David Cameron visited the flood-hit historic city of York on Monday as cities, towns and villages across northern England battled to get back on their feet following devastating storms. Around 500 properties were flooded in York, one of Britain's top tourist attractions, on Sunday as two rivers burst their banks. Some residential streets became so inundated that cars were covered up to their roofs. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLISJUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images
A man on a bicycle turns back from a flooded residential street next to the River Foss after it burst it's banks in York, northern England, on December 28, 2015. British Prime Minister David Cameron visited the flood-hit historic city of York on Monday as cities, towns and villages across northern England battled to get back on their feet following devastating storms. Around 500 properties were flooded in York, one of Britain's top tourist attractions, on Sunday as two rivers burst their banks. Some residential streets became so inundated that cars were covered up to their roofs. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLISJUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images
Businesses continue the clean up in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire after the weekend's flooding.
People being rescued by soldiers and emergency services in York city centre
Flooded riverside properties in Kings Street, York, as swamped towns and cities continue to struggle against the Christmas floods.
Businesses continue the clean up in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire after the weekend's flooding.
The River Irwell
The Army assists the Environment Agency as swamped towns and cities continue to struggle against the Christmas floods (Ministry of Defence/PA)
Flood water by a bridge in Cawood, between York and Selby
Labour MP Simon Danczuk, whose Rochdale constituency has been hit by flooding, said money should be spent in the UK rather than overseas
Insurance companies say they are visiting areas hit by floods
A man wades through flood waters at Hebden Bridge, where flood sirens were sounded after torrential downpours
A flooded railway line at Kirkstall, Leeds
Sandbags are placed on top of the flood defences along the River Ouse in York city centre
Rescue teams in Whalley, Lancashire, after the area was hit by downpours
Soldiers helping to set up flood defences in Appleby as the Army was called in to help protect flood-hit areas of Cumbria (Ministry of Defence/PA)
The River Ouse in York, where riverside properties have been flooded again.

"There was also an agreement the three ministers dealing with flooding would bring to the Executive proposals in relation to potential support schemes.

"The Executive agreed the approach must be balanced, supporting those in urgent need but also having a co-ordinated, strategic, evidence-based approach for the future."

Responding to an urgent Assembly question on the flood response, Ms O'Neill told MLAs: "Once weather conditions improve, an overall review of the response to the flooding experienced in the past two months will be carried out.

"The weather is forecast to become colder over the next few days, with less rain, and that will allow levels in the loughs to reduce further.

"They will, however, remain high, and Rivers Agency will continue to be on high alert."

On her visit to the Toome sluice gates, Ms Villiers pay tribute to all those who had helped in the relief effort.

"My heart goes out to those throughout Northern Ireland who have had their lives so severely disrupted," she said.

"It has been a devastating Christmas and New Year for many and it is vital for householders, farmers and businesses to get back on their feet as soon as possible.

"Over the past number of weeks, I have been moved by the resilience demonstrated by householders and businesses who have been working hard and with the help of neighbours to help each other deal with the impact of the heavy rain and flooding.

"Today I want to take this opportunity to thank all of those who have been involved in these efforts."

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