Michelle Devane, PA
The Government has given the go-ahead to extending a humanitarian fund to the families affected by the blast in Co Donegal.
Ten people died after an explosion at a service station in Creeslough on Friday afternoon.
Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys secured approval at a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday to extend the Humanitarian Assistance Scheme to households damaged by the explosion.
The fund is usually used to help families who have been impacted by flooding due to severe weather events.
It aims to provide financial support to people who have suffered damage to their home and property and in doing so, provide hardship alleviation as opposed to full compensation.
The Department of Social Protection said Ms Humphreys acknowledged the exceptionally tragic event required “compassionate and urgent action” by the Government.
“We are all deeply affected by the tragic event in Creeslough, and the unfolding human stories,” she said.
“We have been asked at local level to give access to the Humanitarian Assistance Scheme for households on the site of the explosion.
“Extending the scheme will ensure my department has maximum flexibility so that we can provide support where needed, quickly and effectively, which I know is what we all want to see.”
The department said community welfare officers are working with other government agencies on the ground in Creeslough to ensure that the families whose homes have been affected are given access to support.
Under the income-tested scheme, households can earn up to €70,000 and still avail of the aid.
A Government spokesperson said the department expects to receive applications from those impacted by the explosion over the coming weeks.
To date, the Department of Social Protection has received a small number of applications for additional needs payments from the households affected.
However, the full extent of damage will only be apparent as the site is made safe structurally and as affected families return to recover personal belongings.