Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 26 October 2022
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine
Flooding of Lough Funshinagh: Lough Funshinagh Group
Eugene Murphy (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source
I will only take a few minutes then will let other people in. We know the story. I sincerely thank the witnesses. Both the Chairman and I have discussed this numerous times in our offices. I acknowledge Deputy Kerrane for speaking to me and ringing me about it on numerous occasions. Deputy Fitzmaurice, who is on this committee, while I am not, has raised it on numerous occasions, as has Deputy Naughten. I acknowledge the support of Senator Boyhan in the Seanad. He is a Dublin-based man but he is very much involved in the agricultural scene. He has always supported this in the Seanad.
We do not need more reports. We need action. It is frightening when one realises that, six or seven years ago, many houses were 2 km from the floods and now the floods are 200 m or 300 m away. I pride myself on horticulture. Every bit of flora and fauna in the region has been destroyed, including bird life and tree life. Even fish have washed up onto the grassland and died, as Councillor Fallon knows, because of the excessive levels of water. It is really important for a clear statement to come from this forum. This is not environmental change in Lough Funshinagh and Rahara. It is a problem with a blockage in the system. I am getting a bit annoyed with some people nationally saying this is to do with environmental change. We all know there are environmental issues and change, but that is not why people in Rahara are suffering so badly.
I have a few questions. I do not care who answers them. We know that one house is gone. The level of sadness and upset among the community has been extraordinary to watch. In the witnesses' opinion, if the water keeps rising, how many more houses will be seriously threatened in the coming weeks and months?
We have to look at a compensation package because payments have been cut back due to flooding. Has the committee talked to the Department about getting involved in the hardship scheme, for example?
Mr. Kearney talked about having cut back his herd already. He is cutting back further the herd he has been looking after for years. Will that be a real challenge for him if this is not solved in the short term?
The Government has made commitments to provide money but we have no plan. You cannot eat dinner if there is no knife or fork to eat it with. Talking about having the money there and how it will be financed is no good when we do not have a plan. I know it is up to us and the Department. I do not think the Parks and Wildlife Service and others have done enough in this regard. The witnesses are right in saying they will have to step up to the mark further, as we will have to as well.
Will the witnesses answer those questions? I will not come back in for now. I thank the Chair for ensuring this is in front of us.