Calls for Stormont to reform and use its 'muscle' to save flooded Northern Ireland businesses

Two weeks on from flooding which devastated parts of Co Down, business owners in Newry and Downpatrick are calling on politicians to get back to Stormont and "use their muscle" to negotiate a proper rescue package.

Businesses who have been affected will be offered a £7,500 payment, which they say doesn't go far enough.

The money comes from Stormont but will be distributed by Newry, Mourne and Down Council.

They will also be given rates relief for six months, including three-months relief for those who use pop-up venues to continue trading.

Eamonn Connolly from Newry Business Improvement District, which represents businesses in the city, says traders would have been better supported with an Executive in place.

"During Covid we had fantastic support from our local ministers and when you're lobbying across multiple regions now, it's not as easy."

Eamonn told View From Stormont "it's impossible" to get fully back up and running with £7,500.

"This initial payment is merely a gesture to help with clean-up. There has to be substantive follow-up and resource to address the deficits we now face," he said.

In Downpatrick, Ciara Douglas's communion dress shop was completely overwhelmed with flood water.

She has now moved into a temporary pop-up shop on Scotch Street in the town after saving most of her stock with the help of business neighbours and the community.

"We need them to sit back down together, we need them to honestly woman-up or man-up," she said.

"I'm really am not a big political person but I know we don't have a Stormont... we all know that that's not there.

"Our whole wee island is suffering for this."

Bartley Murphy's bar was flooded with six feet of water. His whole restaurant needs re-fitted, including electronics and tills, an estimated cost of £380,000.

He says he's been in contact with politicians at every level.

"I've implored them, can they not go back before Christmas? Can they not get an emergency meeting?

"I know they're trying but we are in a very bad place.

"I know the money we need is beyond what they can do but if they go back and use the muscle they have, I think the Tory's will buckle at the knee and they will give them money."

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