Council asks Newry artist to repay flood grant deeming her business ineligible

A Newry business owner who has been closed for more than five months has been asked to repay a £7,500 flooding grant given to her by a local council.

Loretta Gallagher's textile business operates on the first floor of a building at Sugar House Quay. She told UTV that the only route into her workspace is via a door which became inaccessible due to the level of the water when floods hit last November.

Her business was one of 114 given the grant to help with initial damage. However Newry, Mourne and Down District Council now says that was done in error and in a letter, has asked her to repay the money.

"I applied for the £7,500, I thought I deserved it, I was assessed," she said.

"I was told that I deserved it and then to be told, no you don't because of logistics. There has to be more thought put into it."

Loretta added: "I couldn't believe it, I really couldn't believe it.

"This is a council that knows my business, knows me, knows what I do, knows that I try and support local artists and creatives throughout Newry and Mourne."

A spokesperson for Newry, Mourne and Down District Council said it: "does not comment on matters relating to individual business applications and therefore no further comment will be provided.”

Many businesses, particularly across Co Down, were devastated by some of the worst flooding to hit Northern Ireland in years in 2023. Commercial premises in Newry and Downpatrick were worst affected.

The Government allocated £15m in funding for affected businesses as well as rates relief.

In a second round of funding, businesses can apply for up to £100,000 each in an application process which closes on Friday 22nd March.

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