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Rural areas cut off by floods are a priority, says minister Michelle O'Neill

Published 05/01/2016

Lough Erne overflows into the grounds of the Lakeland Forum leisure complex in Co Fermanagh
Lough Erne overflows into the grounds of the Lakeland Forum leisure complex in Co Fermanagh

Stormont's agriculture minister has assured Co Fermanagh families whose rural homes are still cut off by flood water that they are an Executive priority.

Michelle O'Neill toured areas around Lisnaskea that were worst-hit by the overflow of Lough Erne.

She met farmers and other residents in Innishroosk, where homes have been marooned by flooded roads and farmland.

Ms O'Neill spoke to Gary McManus, who has taken time off work to care for his mother because carers have been unable to access her home.

The minister said: "I understand how difficult it is for those who live in rural areas to have their lives disrupted by road closures and diversions and for the farmers to see large parts of their land submerged under rain water.

"Today, I have seen how rising flood water can leave families isolated, the vulnerable without help, communities disrupted, children missing valuable school time and farmers coping with the impact of saturated fields. Everything should be done to ensure their distress is kept to a minimum.

"I have been moved by the resilience demonstrated by our farmers and rural communities. Despite the significant impact of the weather, it is reassuring to see rural people working hard together to help each other deal with the impact of the heavy rain and flooding.

"These communities have been here for generations. They look after the land and the lough. And now, they need to be reassured that they are a priority when weather hits them as hard as it has recently. Government will continue to review its response to the recent flooding as our priority is to make sure people are protected."

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