The minister with responsibility for flooding has given a commitment that humanitarian aid from the Government's €25m fund will be distributed quickly to people whose homes have been damaged or destroyed.

Minister of State with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works Brian Hayes accepted there were delays in processing applications for funding during other recent bad weather events.

He was speaking during a visit to flood-hit areas in Co Kerry.

Meanwhile, water levels in the River Shannon remained stable in most areas overnight and have shown only a marginal increase over the past 24 hours in the regions worst affected by heavy rain this week.

The Office of Public Works' automated monitoring system is showing very high water levels in Shannonbridge, Co Offaly, and Athlone, Co Westmeath.

Later today, local authorities will review the flood warning issued earlier in the week when they receive new data from the ESB, which manages the river.

Heavy rain and winds forecast for tomorrow night are described by the local authorities as the next significant flooding threat to homes in low-lying areas of Athlone.

Water levels on the River Barrow are increasing near the town of Athy in Co Kildare.

There is some flooding on local roads but no flooding of homes in the area at this stage.

If the Barrow continues to rise, flooding is forecast in low-lying residential areas in Athy over the weekend or early next week.

Meanwhile, the Irish Red Cross has issued an appeal for donations to help those worst affected by the recent flooding.

The charity wants to give families cash grants of up to €1,000 to help with buying food and clothing.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Irish Red Cross Head of National Services Fintan Breen said the money would go towards the immediate needs of those in distress.

He said he hoped it would be distributed to families this week.

The Irish Claims Consultants Association has estimated that around 60% of those affected by recent flooding do not have insurance.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Edition, Eamon Downey said that the number of those who actually make a claim on their insurance following flooding is even less than this.

He said this was due in part to insured people having large excesses on policies, and people being prepared for flooding.

Mr Downey said the cost of insured damage, including loss of profits, in the Cork City centre area alone from recent flooding could come to around €7m.

He said he believed that most of those who were not insured were simply not able to get insurance cover.

Free parking scheme in Cork

Meanwhile, Cork City Council has announced a free parking initiative to help city-centre traders recover from Tuesday's flooding.

There will be free parking and no bus fares for commuters who use the Black Ash park and ride facility on the southside of the city every Saturday from 8 February until 15 March, inclusive.

Almost 1,000 free parking spaces will be available at the Black Ash site each Saturday.

From next week, commuters will also be able to avail of two hours of free parking at the Paul Street and North Main Street multi-storey carparks from 10am until 12pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays until 15 March.

Free evening parking will also be available in the Paul Street car park on these days from 6.30pm to midnight.

Free on-street parking will continue on Sundays too.

Lord Mayor of Cork, Councillor Catherine Clancy, said she hoped people would avail of the free parking in light of what the city centre, businesses and residents had endured through flooding in recent days.

Cork City Manager Tim Lucey said traders had shown resilience to ensure that the city remained open for business and he encouraged people to support local businesses.