Wednesday, 18 November 2020
The Minister of State is very welcome. As he might expect, I want to focus on Limerick. He will be aware of the massive problems with flooding in the city and county as well as in Newport in Tipperary. Three years ago the then Minister of State, Deputy Kevin Boxer Moran, arrived in our village of Castleconnell and declared that millions of euro would be spent on badly needed flood defences. That was a very welcome announcement but three years on, we are still waiting for those flood defences to be built or even to be commenced. We are told that works will commence next year and the Minister of State must ensure that there are no further delays.
In March some residents in Mill Road, Corbally, were flooded twice in 24 hours. Flooding was seen again in Limerick city at the weekend and there were complaints that flood barriers were not erected. Large volumes of water could be seen splashing onto the road beside Clancy's Strand. I met representatives of the ESB last week to discuss water management in the Shannon region as it is the main body responsible for three weirs on the river which are used to manage flow. This is something that must be managed correctly because when it is managed incorrectly or when it goes wrong, it can cause devastation.
Sinn Féin put forward a Bill this month which would see a single body manage the River Shannon. This would help to prevent flooding. There are currently informal arrangements among multiple bodies working to manage such actions as flood defences. There are 20 agencies including the ESB, Waterways Ireland and various local authorities involved in water management and maintenance of the river. The Government reaction to the Sinn Féin Bill was to promise to look at it again in nine months. Fine Gael argued 20 years ago for a single authority for the Shannon but when Sinn Féin acts and puts forward a Bill on same, it wants to wait another nine months. This is another example of the lack of delivery from this Government and the previous one. There is a lack of delivery on the ground and where I live, the people are very conscious of that. Home owners do not have time on their hands. Every day they have to wait for flood relief action is a further day of worry about possible devastation from flooding. We are in winter now and people have a winter of the pandemic to fear but those home owners at risk of flooding face a more uncertain future than most.Lands in Montpelier, Castleconnell, Annacotty and Mountshannon-Lisnagry have already been under water this year. People living along the River Shannon are sick and tired of the floods hitting, with politicians coming out on boats, getting their photos taken and saying how awful it is. What we need is delivery.