Northern Ireland news

Taoiseach flies to north west to view flood devastation

Taoiseach Leo Varadakar (right) and Irish government chief whip Joe McHugh visited Inishowen yesterday to see the destruction caused by Tuesday night's floods. Picture by RTE
Seamus McKinney

TAOISEACH Leo Varadakar has flown to Inishowen to view at first hand the devastation caused by Tuesday's floods in the north west.

Mr Varadakar was one of four cabinet members who visited the area yesterday after the Irish army was deployed to help with the huge clean-up operation.

Minister for Defence Paul Kehoe, agriculture minister Michael Creed and social protection minister Regina Doherty also paid separate visits to the Inishowen peninsula in north Donegal.

The Taoiseach, who flew into the area by Irish army helicopter, spent time in Carndonagh and Buncrana where he met victims of the floods.

It is estimated that 150 homes and 50 businesses have been affected in Inishowen and an estimated 17 families have been left homeless.

Speaking in Carndonagh, Mr Varadkar said: "You have to see it to understand the scale of the damage that has been done."

Clean-up efforts also continued north of the border where 20 families left homeless by the floods have so far been rehoused in emergency accommodation.

However, Housing Executive spokesman Eddie Doherty appealed to private landlords to make vacant properties available.

He said 26 of its properties in the Derry area had been badly damaged.

A Department for Infrastructure spokesman confirmed that the main Derry to Strabane road and all other main routes have now re-opened.

“Work is continuing over the bank holiday weekend to assess and repair damage to the roads and rivers impacted by this flooding. Departmental staff remain on standby should further rain be forecast."

Meanwhile, Derry City and Strabane District Council said it has dealt with 465 requests for an emergency payment scheme set up to help victims of the floods.

A spokeswoman said some payments have already been released and others would continue over the weekend. She urged people whose homes have been affected to register with the council by contacting 02871 253253.

Two flooding help centres set up at the YMCA in Drumahoe and at Eglinton community centre have been extremely busy since Wednesday. They will continue to open from 8am to 10pm.

In Co Donegal, the Republic's health service has also established a helpline for people who may feel emotionally overwhelmed because of the floods. A spokeswoman suggested that people could also contact the Samaritans.

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