SINN Féin Cllr Paul Hayes has called on Council officials to consider ways of ‘speeding up the process’ of making emergency flood relief payments to businesses affected by flooding.
He was speaking at a meeting of the Municipal District of West Cork after he produced a letter from the Irish Red Cross seeking to clarify the situation regarding payments made to businesses in Bandon.
Barry O’Donovan, the organisation’s national secretary, took exception to claims on a radio station that ‘not one penny’ of the emergency Red Cross Grant was received by traders in Bandon.
He wrote: ‘This statement is factually incorrect and we have called for its immediate public retraction. At the time of broadcast, there were in fact 26 payments sent to the bank accounts of businesses’ in Bandon, with four others awaiting approval by the local authority.
Mr O’Donovan said many traders had confirmed receipt of their payments, but he also pointed out that since the December 5th flooding, a number of traders decided to hold off submitting their applications because they wanted to get ‘a fuller picture of the actual extent of their damage.’
He told the members of the Municipal District: ‘I am aware of six traders that fall into this category.’ Furthermore, he said: ‘There has been a delay in the return of the paperwork from some local authorities (one of which is Cork) and this has slowed up the process slightly as we can only process payment on the return of this paperwork.’
Speaking on behalf of his team at the Irish Red Cross, Mr O’Donovan said: ‘Our members and staff have gone from door to door with application forms, advised on filling in the necessary information, and scanned and returned the forms for those who asked us to. Volunteers in Bandon provided support to the National Ambulance Service on December 5th by transporting a patient to Cork and, in partnership with Fr John Kingston and the Parish Assembly, the Trustees of Bandon Town Hall, Bandon Cycling Club and Bandon Scout Group, we have coordinated emergency shelters – which thankfully were not needed – and provided refreshments for emergency services on both nights of the flooding.
‘Our volunteers also assisted traders with lifting stock and supported An Garda Siochana with keeping the footbridge clear on both nights. We brought bottled water and blankets to Bandon on December 6th and distributed them throughout the community.
‘All of this,’ he added, ‘is in line with our plans following our Vulnerability Capacity Assessment public consultation last July in Bandon.’
In his letter, Mr O’Donovan made one request of the councillors. He said: ‘I would be very obliged if you would contact me before contacting the media with inaccurate information. Such actions only result in reputational damage to our organisation and demoralises volunteers who give so willingly of their time in times of crisis.’