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 Header Item Compensation Schemes (Continued)
 Header Item Medical Products

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 966 No. 5

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Deputy Andrew Doyle: Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle There is still 3 ft of snow outside my front door. Maybe we are a little more accustomed to it than others. A couple of my roofs are damaged. I appreciate the nature and extent of the damage.

Throughout the period of adverse weather conditions last week caused by Storm Emma, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine was directly involved in a co-ordinated response as a member of the National Emergency Co-ordination Group, NECG, convened by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, the lead Department in severe weather incidents. While the south and east of the country bore the brunt of the storm and its after effects, many other areas experienced disruptions to daily life and the business of farming to a greater or lesser degree. The storm proved particularly disruptive as farmers coped with challenging weather conditions alongside the normal busy workload of spring, calving, lambing and winter feeding. The key on-farm challenges revolved around preventing the freezing up of water supplies at a critical time for lactating animals, the provision of fodder and shelter to stock against the worst of the snowfall and dangerous conditions for farmyards and environs. Delayed turn-out of some stock is increasing the demand for fodder and accommodation. The targeted, localised scheme to provide a subsidy for long-distance transport of fodder is open and available to farmers affected by fodder shortages in the west and north west of the country.

Throughout this period and immediately afterwards, departmental staff, together with Teagasc, worked at local level to ensure that the farming community had access to the best advice on how to cope with the numerous issues thrown up by the storm. To support those in more immediate difficulties the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine emergency phone line for animal welfare issues remained open and attended at all times. All requests for support were responded to. I recognise the significant assistance the farming community provided within the wider community at this busy time as farmers looked in on neighbours, cleared roads and helped to restore access to more remote rural areas.

At sectoral level, the Department worked closely with all stakeholders and with industry to minimise disruption to critical activities, including milk collection services. I am happy to be able to report that all major issues were resolved in the shortest possible time thanks to the co-ordinated efforts of farmers, industry and departmental staff. As the storm abated and the sector slowly returned to normal, it became clear that the main problem centred on damage to horticulture and other on-farm structures. Such structures will principally be insured and it is important that insurance companies respond rapidly and flexibly to the needs of their farmers customers. It is important to emphasise that public support cannot be provided for insurable risks.

In order to respond where possible to the issue of structural damage, it is appropriate to consider what aspects can be addressed through on-farm investment support schemes operated by the Department. With that in mind, I have asked the officials to explore the possibility of a targeted re-opening of the 2018 scheme of investment aid for the development of the commercial horticulture sector. The ability of the scheme to react to evolving situations is a key strength in supporting this highly dynamic sector. Support under the scheme is available for a range of capital structural investments such as improvement to structures and facilities. It does not cover replacement of stock or structural repairs. In respect of other farm structures such as sheds and outbuildings, I have instructed officials to fast-track the targeted agricultural modernisation scheme, TAMS, applications for farmers affected by the recent storm. I urge these farmers to make contact with the TAMS section of the Department directly or through the contact details for scheme which are available on our website.

Deputy Margaret Murphy O'Mahony: Information on Margaret Murphy O'Mahony Zoom on Margaret Murphy O'Mahony I thank the Minister of State for his reply but I note that much of his time was spent describing the damage that was done. I am very aware of that. There was moral support in place during the time. Farmers were able to access advice. They need compensation. The Minister of State says he is reopening a scheme but some things are not covered by it. I would like a broader scheme to be brought in. I hope these were unique weather conditions. If they were not, we might be better prepared for another one. Money talks. I ask the Minister of State and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Deputy Creed, to think about opening up a new scheme.

I also acknowledge the help farmers, especially in my locality, gave people living in the towns. Tractors came in from all sides to enable people to leave their houses. Even though they were undergoing much pain and hassle, farmers stepped up to the mark and helped their neighbours in town.

I realise that the condition of rural roads is outside the remit of the Minister of State but the weather made this worse. Many flood prevention measures need to be put in place. Several Departments should get together and make a plan because with the effects of climate change this was not a unique occasion.

Deputy Andrew Doyle: Information on Andrew Doyle Zoom on Andrew Doyle In respect of the roads, the Taoiseach and the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Deputy Eoghan Murphy, have requested all local authorities to assess the cost of the damage and the cost of engaging contractors and others to carry out work such as clearing roads. Some cannot do that yet because where I come from the roads are still white so no one can tell what damage has been done. It will be another week or two before it all thaws and the damage is manifest. That affects all rural dwellers.

I understand that very little milk was dumped. Glanbia moved straightaway to price any milk that had to be discarded at 20 cent per litre and every effort was made to minimise that issue. I think it was down almost to single figures. The board of Dairygold is meeting to consider a scheme in the order of 10 cent to 15 cent a litre, in an effort to show solidarity with their suppliers and to help them. With regard to structural damage, it is too easy to let insurance companies off the hook. They have a moral duty to longstanding customers, some of whom have not experienced an event such as this since 2010-11 and before that 1982. Farmers around the country have paid many premiums for insurable assets and have never claimed. There is a moral duty on insurance companies to engage with these people. In the long term, they will get it back. I hope we will not have another weather event. In some buildings where there is structural damage fatigue was probably setting in and they needed to be upgraded. If that is done, and the same applies to the difference between old glass and the stronger glass nowadays, it should prevent a more frequent occurrence of this damage. We have much to do. We should acknowledge the good work that went on and the solidarity shown across rural communities. It has brought out the best in many cases, epitomising neighbourliness and community spirit.

Medical Products

Deputy Sean Sherlock: Information on Seán Sherlock Zoom on Seán Sherlock I am speaking on behalf of a three year old boy from Killeagh in County Cork, Adam King. He has been waiting for a wheelchair since last July. I have been asking the Minister for Health about this for several months when Adam can expect to receive his wheelchair. It is a shame that when there is an increased allocation of resources, particularly to the Health Service Executive, HSE, that facility cannot be afforded to a three year old boy. His parents, Fiona and David, say that his dignity and safety are compromised daily.

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