Fine Gael TD for Longford-Westmeath, Gabrielle McFadden, has said that there will be a Minister with special responsibility for flooding if Fine Gael is returned to Government.
Deputy McFadden met with An Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Athlone on Friday, their second meeting since the flooding hit the area in early December. During the meeting, Gabrielle discussed the need for a Minister with sole responsibility for flooding issues across the country including along the River Shannon which has affected the Longford-Westmeath area so badly in recent weeks.
Speaking after the meeting Deputy McFadden said: “I have been speaking with the Taoiseach almost every day since the start of the flooding crisis. We spoke at length about solutions to the ongoing flooding in the constituency. I asked the Taoiseach to create a Minister with specific responsibility for flooding and the Taoiseach told me that this is a position he intends to appoint a Minister for if elected again in the coming weeks.
“The recent floods have been very difficult for many households across the region and I have spent a lot of time in the last month doing everything I can to help local residents affected.
“The Taoiseach also updated me on the relief funds for business which the Government approved an additional €10 million for last week and I know from my own work on the ground that social welfare officers are continuing to call to affected families and offer assistance and financial relief.
“The next steps in addressing this issue must be to make flooding issues a priority for the next Government. I am very happy that the Taoiseach has agreed, if elected again, to a Minister with responsibility for floods. It is an area that I have a very good understanding of and feel that such a position in Government is needed.
“This Government has had to work hard over the last five years to fix our public finances and put our country back to work. The improving economy will help secure recovery that has now begun to take hold. A strong economy means more resources to pay for vital infrastructure like flood defences and better public services which the public need and want. Fine Gael has a plan to keep the recovery going.
“I was delighted to see the Taoiseach launch a €40m regional jobs fund as part of the Regional Jobs Plan in Athlone on Friday. The fund is aimed at incentivising organisations such as local authorities, education institutions and state agencies to work together on a regional basis in the interest of job creation. The Action Plan for Jobs has been very successful nationally creating over 135,000 jobs and bringing employment down to 8.8% from over 15%. Our challenge now is to spread the benefits to every region including here in Longford-Westmeath. We have the plan to do this and will continue to work hard to secure the recovery and make sure it is felt behind the door of every home here in the constituency.”