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Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein urged property tax relief for flood-hit homeowners

Published 11/12/2015

Flooded fields at Shannonbridge in County Offaly
Flooded fields at Shannonbridge in County Offaly

Flood-hit homeowners should be exempted from property tax, opposition politicians have claimed.

While the Government has cleared five million euro for businesses hit by the deluge both Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein called for a waiver for any house damaged in the wake of Storm Desmond.

Up to 100 homes in the centre of Athlone are hemming back floods with sandbags and pumps are working around the clock.

Other communities badly affected included Carrick-On-Shannon, Leitrim village, Crossmolina, Athleague, Ballinasloe and swathes of land along the Clare-Limerick border south of Lough Derg.

Sean Fleming, Fianna Fail spokesman on public expenditure and reform, said: "It's simply unfair to ask families who have been washed out of their homes and suffered huge damage to their personal possessions to continue to pay property taxes while they try to get back on their feet."

Mr Fleming said a waiver on property tax would be a sign of compassion.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams called for the Government to access EU funds to help with the emergency responses.

One of his party's finance spokesmen, Peadar Toibin, reiterated the Fianna Fail call for property tax to be lifted for the flood hit homes.

"What has happened during the recent storms has spelled disaster for families across the island, to turn around and demand the property tax from homes affected by the flooding is callous in the extreme," he said.

"Homes and livelihoods have been devastated by the events of the past week. They must be exempted from the local property tax."

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny claimed there are gaps in Ireland's meteorology expertise and vowed to beef up forecasting divisions.

"Better information is available but, as minister of state (Simon) Harris pointed out, we don't have a detailed weather forecasting system like is available in most other countries," he said.

"That is something that everybody would welcome and that is something we will put in place."

Mr Kenny said the floods were "soul destroying".

He also claimed one billion euro (£720 million) is available over 10 years - 470 million euro (£340 million) in the first few years - to alleviate flood risk with 300 locations around country identified, including 66 on the Shannon.

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