Belfast Telegraph

Flood damage to businesses and homes - but where's the relief?

Northern Ireland Executive to discuss flood aftermath in Stormont

By Michael McHugh

Devastation caused by floods to businesses and homeowners across the region will be discussed by the Northern Ireland Executive on Monday to discuss floods.

Low-lying areas around sections of Lough Erne and Lough Neagh have been worst hit.

SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly represents the Upper Bann area which has been badly affected.

"Tomorrow the onus is on the Executive to make a difference by delivering on flood relief and at the very least agree to Minister (Mark H) Durkan's proposal to extend the Emergency Financial Assistance Scheme to businesses and community facilities.

"After speaking with business owners last week I have seen first-hand the devastation the flooding has caused and how in the long term it will collapse many local business unless financial aid is given.

"It is disheartening that Minister Durkan's previous call for the scheme to be extended to businesses, submitted to the Executive in a paper last December, had not been heeded by other ministers.

"It is absolutely vital therefore that all flood relief resources are now deployed as quickly and effectively as possible while at the same time serious questions be asked about the delay in the Executive's response to the flooding.

"If Minister Durkan had not called for the £1.3 million from the UK Government to be ring fenced for flood prevention and assistance, who knows where this money might have ended up."

Agriculture Minister Michelle O'Neill has said she will announce details of a new grant scheme to help people protect their homes.

The home of 72-year-old Jimmy Quinn, who lives alone in the townland of Derrytresk near Coalisland, Co Tyrone, has been surrounded by water for 11 days. Rivers Agency staff having been manning water pumps outside his property 24/7 ever since.

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