Ceisteann—Questions. Oral Answers. - Mayo Flood Damage.

Tuesday, 26 November 1985

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 362 No. 1

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6.

Mr. D. Gallagher: Information on Denis Gallagher  Zoom on Denis Gallagher  asked the Minister for Agriculture if a survey has been carried out in relation to flood damage in County Mayo; and if he will make funds available immediately to compensate for the serious damage caused.

35.

Mr. D. Gallagher: Information on Denis Gallagher  Zoom on Denis Gallagher  asked the Minister for Agriculture if, in view of the serious problems facing the farming community in County Mayo because of recent flooding, he will ensure that adequate provision is made by the Government to compensate these farmers for their losses.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  I propose to take Questions Nos. 6 and 35 together. Due to the limited Exchequer resources available, assistance for flood damage victims had necessarily to be confined to farmers in areas of the Shannon Valley most severely affected by flooding. However, farmers in County Mayo and in other parts of the country who have been unable to conserve adequate winter fodder for their livestock were in a position to benefit from the winter fodder scheme 1985 and also eligible for the feed voucher scheme, details of which were announced earlier this month and which is due to close tomorrow.

Mr. D. Gallagher: Information on Denis Gallagher  Zoom on Denis Gallagher  The Minister mentioned the Shannon area, and we are not objecting to help being given there, but there are areas in Mayo and elsewhere where land is covered by sand, bog and grit of all sorts. When the Shannon subsides at least the farmers will have land but in many instances the farmers in Mayo will have no land left and they can get no help by way of grant to get their land back into production. The Government should alleviate the problem of these small farmers.

[13]Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  My attention has not been drawn to any particular difficulty in Mayo which is not apparent elsewhere. If there was an area which might have been included it is that area adjacent to Dowra, County Cavan, where there was flooding of a nature which might have merited aid. That was not included because it came to light after we had decided on the areas to be included in the relief for the Shannon Valley. During the past summer and early autumn everyone had trouble as regards flooding, but unless there was something exceptional about the degree of flooding, we did not even examine the question of making relief available.

Mr. Naughten: Information on Liam Anthony Naughten  Zoom on Liam Anthony Naughten  Would the Minister consider a further extension of the closing date for applications for relief?

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  As much as I would like to do that, the fact is that by extending the date I would run into difficulties issuing the vouchers. I cannot start issuing vouchers until I know the total number of applicants. The sooner I know that the sooner I can get the scheme working. The original closing date was 20 November and it has now been extended to 27 November. I want to ensure that people get these feed vouchers as quickly as possible. Therefore, I do not think it fair to ask for a further extension because the week's extension is sufficient.

Mr. J. Leonard: Information on James Leonard  Zoom on James Leonard  When will the vouchers be issued?

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  As quickly as possible. I hope in a matter of weeks.

Mr. Naughten: Information on Liam Anthony Naughten  Zoom on Liam Anthony Naughten  Could the Minister tell the House approximately the number of applications he has received under the feed voucher scheme to date?

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  I could give a guesstimate, but not all the people who applied will be deemed eligible, although I hope they will. Obviously a certain percentage will probably be disqualified for various [14] reasons, such as income level and so on. The latest figure is approximately 60,000.

Mr. D. Gallagher: Information on Denis Gallagher  Zoom on Denis Gallagher  Do I take it from the Minister's reply that if it is possible to make a case that land in Mayo has been destroyed because of flooding, he would be prepared to receive representations and would be disposed to give some help?

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  As much as I sympathise with the Deputy, I would not like to give him false hope because I might have to look at many similar areas. I have an additional problem: we allocated £2.5 million for the winter fodder scheme on 8 August. One million pounds of that was for fertiliser and £1.5 million was allocated for first time silage makers. We estimated that the maximum number of people who would avail of the first time silage making scheme was 8,000. It transpired that something like 30,000 have availed of that scheme. As a result our estimate has gone through the roof. Instead of spending £1.5 million, we will spend something like £6 million. It is proving extremely difficult to find that extra money and, therefore, it will be extremely difficult to find additional money for cases similar to that mentioned by the Deputy.

Mr. Naughten: Information on Liam Anthony Naughten  Zoom on Liam Anthony Naughten  This proves it is a very good scheme.

Mr. Farrelly: Information on John V. Farrelly  Zoom on John V. Farrelly  In view of the fact that there are about 30,000 people availing of that scheme, will the Minister increase the number of inspectors so that they can deal with these applications as quickly as possible? When does he envisage payment will be made?

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  We have diverted every available resource to working on these emergency schemes. As regards payment, I cannot tell the Deputy at the moment. All I can say is that payments to the Shannon Valley have already commenced.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  I am calling [15] Deputy N. Treacy and then moving to the next question.

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  As a result of the Minister's replies, particularly having regard to the large take-up on the first time silage making, will the Minister give a commitment that he will make a good grant available for the provision of silage plants in 1986?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  That is another question.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  That question has been put down by Deputy Hilliard. I will answer it if we reach it today.

Mr. Farrelly: Information on John V. Farrelly  Zoom on John V. Farrelly  A Cheann Comhairle——

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  I am moving on to the next question.

Mr. Farrelly: Information on John V. Farrelly  Zoom on John V. Farrelly  It is important.

An Cheann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Everybody thinks the question he intends to ask is important.

Mr. Farrelly: Information on John V. Farrelly  Zoom on John V. Farrelly  The people in ACOT informed me yesterday that the number of people they can visit in any one day is 15——

An Cheann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  That is not a question, whatever else it is.

Mr. Farrelly: Information on John V. Farrelly  Zoom on John V. Farrelly  It is a question.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Question No. 7.

7.

Mr. Kitt: Information on Michael P. Kitt  Zoom on Michael P. Kitt  asked the Minister for Agriculture the criteria for payment to farmers from his Department to alleviate losses incurred because of the very serious flooding.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  Assistance to farmers who faced serious winter fodder problems as a result of flood damage is confined to people farming in parts of specific district [16] electoral divisions in the Shannon valley area. The scheme is limited to those mainly dependent on farming with not more than 60 livestock units who have suffered fodder or, in some cases, crop losses. The maximum subsidy is £500 per farmer.

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Can the Minister give a reason why the Dunkellin river basin was not included in that scheme?

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  I cannot. I can only depend on the technical people in my Department who studied the question at first hand.

(Interruptions.)

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  Can the Minister say why the people living in the south eastern part of Galway north of Portumna right across to Woodford and into Ballycrosaun were not looked after?

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  That is a separate question.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  James J. Fitzpatrick used to do this travelogue once a week in the films but I cannot travel around the country giving a run down——

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Deputy Liam Naughten.

Mr. Naughten: Information on Liam Anthony Naughten  Zoom on Liam Anthony Naughten  I am delighted at the way in which the scheme is operating but is there a possibility of giving special assistance to farmers in that area which is classified under the Shannon valley and the Suck valley aid scheme by way of an additional grant?

Mr. N. Treacy: Information on Noel Treacy  Zoom on Noel Treacy  We did not get an answer.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  The reply to Deputy Naughten's question is the same as the reply I gave to Deputy Gallagher. I would love to have the resources but because of [17] the overspending on the silage scheme it is proving particularly difficult to make additional areas qualify for the scheme.

An Ceann Comhairle: Information on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Zoom on Thomas J. Fitzpatrick  Deputy J. Leonard, and then I am moving on to the next question.

Mr. J. Leonard: Information on James Leonard  Zoom on James Leonard  For the sake of goodwill would the Minister not agree that it is important to make an effort? West Cavan and other areas mentioned earlier have suffered as severely from flooding as areas around the Shannon.

Mr. Deasy: Information on Austin Deasy  Zoom on Austin Deasy  There is not a lot extra available to people in the Shannon valley or the other affected areas compared with the general run-of-the-mill farmer who has fallen on difficult times. The maximum that can be paid under the Shannon valley scheme is £500. We hope to be able to pay £400 or its equivalent through the fodder scheme depending on the number of applicants. If the number of applicants is less than anticipated we may be able to pay more.


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