PADRAIG HOARE KIERAN DINEEN
“THE 9m euro hardship fund for Cork is welcome — but it means nothing if the rules make it virtually impossible to access it.”
That was the reaction of St Vincent De Paul regional vice-president Brendan Dempsey today to Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton’s announcement that Cork victims of the recent floods would get access to a 9m hardship fund.
It is the same fund that Minister Burton set up after the floods in Dublin and Monaghan last October. It will be means tested and applies only to uninsured homeowners and not businesses. People are advised to contact their community welfare officers (CWOs) to avail of it.
However it is feared the sums available through the fund may not even be close to covering the damage because of its stringent qualifying criteria.
There was fury in Glanmire last night as flood victims and residents of Meadowbrook hit out at insurance companies for “dragging their heels” and refusing to pay out claims at a meeting at Riverstown community centre. Attended by 100 residents, Jim Healy, residents’ association chairperson said: “We want answers and action.”
In reply to a Dáil question this month, Minister Burton said the average payment already made from the humanitarian fund was just 790. Up to the end of May 2012, a total of 960 payments had been made at a cost of 760,000.
Mr Dempsey said: “I am worried that this funding will just amount to more rhetoric. St Vincent De Paul is still paying for repairs to buildings from the floods of 2009. The rules and regulations that the CWOs have to adhere to are too much.
“We have to have an agency like FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) in the US which deals with national emergencies specifically. It has a remit to deal with things like floods or earthquakes immediately without the red tape.” Why do charities like ourselves have to deal with the fallout every time?
“This 9m hardship fund cannot be processed like the social welfare system which takes way too long.”
A leading insurance assessor estimated the total cost of the damage caused by the flooding in Cork to be in the order of 80 to 100 million.
See pages four and six for more.