Coveney visits flood-decimated south Roscommon

Promises financial support to flood victims

On a visit to flood-decimated Clonown, near Athlone, on Wednesday morning, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney promised that he would do his utmost to assist those affected by the crisis.

  Mr Coveney’s visit to south Roscommon was hastily arranged, but a significant number of residents, local politicians and farming officials turned up to make their cases heard to the under-fire Minister.

  Firstly, the group travelled by tractor and trailer to two of the Clonown townlands that were worst-hit by flooding, Curraghnaboll and Callowbeg.

  He met numerous victims: some had to abandon their flooded homes; others had lost thousands of euros’ worth of fodder.

  Vast tracts of land resembled a lake, with water up the height of a fence.

  Mr Coveney also encountered cattle who were in jeopardy: they were located in a shed that was entirely surrounded by water.

  “This is a part of the country that is amongst the worst-hit by the floods this year,” said the Minister. “Let’s try and get through this emergency.”

  Clonown is regularly flooded at this time of the year, but the Minister accepted that the latest spell was particularly devastating.

  “This is a wet area anyway at this time of the year, but people should not have to wade through water, leave their homes, move their cattle, or see over 40 of their sheep drowning in floods,” he said.

  Mr Coveney was heavily criticised by some people in attendance, but he

insisted that the Government was doing all it could to alleviate the
devastation caused to many people.

  “We are trying to be as generous as we can to help to get through what is an emergency for the houses and farms involved,” said the Minister, speaking at Clonown Community Centre after his visit to flooded lands. “We are trying to do everything we can to help businesses, home owners and farms.”

  He firstly outlined the “significant financial support” available to those whose homes had flooded. 

  Mr Coveney said: “Initially, there are cash payments to make sure that you get through a difficult period and, then, once the flood waters have gone down, the damage that has been done to the house can be fixed, and you should get strong financial supports to do that.”

  Significant supports are also available for farmers, he said.

  “From a Department of Agriculture point of view, we have been concentrating on getting meal, nuts, to farms to try to get fodder on farms that are isolated,” said Mr Coveney.

  “More farmers in Co Roscommon have been helped than any other county.”

  He said that a list of affected farmers’ names had been compiled, and that they could go to their local co-op to collect free supplies of animal feed.

  In a further measure for these victims, Mr Coveney said: “Yesterday, the Cabinet agreed for me a fodder compensation scheme.

  “This means that farmers will be able to get full market value, in terms of cash, for fodder that has been damaged and destroyed. I think that will be helpful to quite a lot of farmers in this area.”

  He said that farmers who had suffered the loss of livestock – he referenced the drowning of 48 at Kiltoom – would also be compensated.

  Mr Coveney urged people to avail of the assistance that was available.

  “If you need help, ask for it,” he said. “A lot of people, particularly in their own homes, are very proud, trying to look after and protect their own homes, when actually they should be asking for help.

  “We should maybe be getting a soldier in there to man pumps at night time, so people can get to sleep.”