“I have proposed that anyone’s home which has has been flooded should be allowed to revalue their property at zero and therefore be exempt from property tax until permanent flood defences are put in place and these properties can gain value again.
“I have raised this with Minister Noonan and Minister Harris and I have asked them to give this proposal due consideration given the devastation suffered by affected householders.
"In relation to the permanent flood defence options for Athlone, Minister Harris has confirmed to me that the consultation maps will go on public display again within the month. I asked for this in order to accommodate people who could not make the first viewing because of the floods.
"Whatever options are agreed upon after this public consultation, it will take a number of years for the work to be completed. What is needed now is action. That is why it is extremely important that Westmeath County Council avails of the €500,000 funding programme made available by Minister Harris for interim.flood protection measures in advance of long term solutions.
“Above all right now, people affected by the floods must get the financial support they need to get their lives back to normal. The Irish Red Cross and the Department of Social Protection have emergency funding available for businesses and householders respectively while the Department of Agriculture has fodder and hardship schemes in place.
“Up to now, 19 Westmeath farmers out of a total of 52 have been approved for feedstuffs under the new fodder scheme and I would like to remind those who want to apply that the closing date for this scheme is January 22 next.”