GOVERNMENT Chief Whip and Donegal Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh has slammed comments from Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams about the response to the Donegal flood crisis.
Joe McHugh said he found Mr Adams’s remarks regarding the flood response as insulting and questioned why it took the Sinn Féin President more than a week to visit the worst hit parts of the county.
Minister McHugh said: “I found the comments insulting and simply wrong. Where was Deputy Adams as people were forced from their homes by the storm?
“He showed up in Donegal four days ago. In those first few days people were traumatised and seeking help and support and Deputy Adams was nowhere to be seen. His Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald showed up a week after the floods.
“Government ministers were on the ground in the hours after the floods, talking to victims and helping them get supports. Emergency funding for affected families was fast-tracked immediately and a number of other schemes put in place, including funding to repair homes and a €2m fund for voluntary organisations and businesses.
“Mr Adams has insulted all of those who were actually out working to help those affected – the incredible council staff who have worked around the clock to open roads.
“He is also attacking our Defence Forces who have built bridges, erected safety fences and helped to clear out homes.
“Department of Social Protection staff from Donegal and Sligo worked through the night in some cases to ensure that all those affected got the help they needed and HSE counsellors have done the same.
“Three Government ministers including myself were at the scene within hours of the flood and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was also in Inishowen that week along with five other Government ministers. All branches of Government responded speedily to the crisis which unfolded.”
The Donegal Fine Gael TD added: “Deputy Adams’ grasp of facts has never been his strong point and in this case he is wide of the mark. Had he taken time to visit the flood victims when the crisis unfolded, he would have known that.
“Deputy Adams needs to apologise all those who helped out for his comments and in particular to the soldiers, the council staff and department officials who have been working tirelessly in the aftermath of this crisis every single day and night for the past fortnight.
“After Donegal County Council assessed the damage, there was an inter-department Government meeting to ensure a speedy response to the crisis.
“I also attended a follow up inter-department meeting in Dublin co-ordinated by Sean Hogan – National Director of the National Directorate for Fire and Emergency Management.
“The response of civic society to the crisis has been incredible and I want to acknowledge the input from musicians, GAA clubs, the Red Cross, the Donegal Diaspora and the neighbours who went out of their way to help. Any time there is a crisis in Donegal, Daniel O’Donnell is always at the forefront.
“Mr Adams on the other hand was nowhere to be seen,” Minister McHugh said.