Throughout the period of adverse weather conditions caused by storm Emma, my Department 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 Government Department on 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. Throughout this period and immediately afterwards Department 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.
I would like to take this opportunity to recognise the significant assistance the farming community provided within the wider local community at this busy time as they looked in on neighbours, cleared roads and helped to restore access to more remote rural areas.
In the aftermath of the storm as 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 farmer 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 I believe that it is appropriate to recognise supports already available through current on-farm investment support schemes operated by my Department and I have asked my officials to examine these in the context of Storm Emma as a matter of urgency.