Wednesday, 18 November 2020
I also welcome the Minister of State to the House and thank him for his proactive approach to his Department. That is how he does his business. He gets things done. That is a great thing to be able to say about a Minister of State. There is a lot of work to do to deal with flooding. Many colleagues have outlined the challenges and difficulties in other parts of the country. I would like to mention the west coast of Clare. On 6 January 2014, significant damage was done along the west coast. I have to give full credit to the OPW for its response at the time. There was a significant interdepartmental response. Millions of euros have been spent on coastal protection works along the west coast of Clare in the past three or four years, particularly around Lahinch. More work needs to be done. I am particularly thinking of the very famous hotel and golf course in Doonbeg that employs 200 or 300 people. Protection work needs to be done there. I would like the Minister of State to examine the progress of that work when he gets the opportunity. Clonahinchy in Quilty is another vulnerable area where houses have been flooded. Engagement and work is ongoing in Clonahinchy and Spanish Point.
Unlike many other European countries, we are an island nation. We are exposed to the sea. Planning decisions have caused property to be built in the wrong areas. That has consequences. The system granted planning permission in those vulnerable areas and, therefore, the system has to protect the people who find themselves living there. In the next ten or 15 years, we will have to consider spending billions of euros on coastal protection works in this country. Prior to the past three or four years the budget for this was particularly low. We need to consider significantly escalating spending on coastal protection works. We need the assistance of our colleagues in Europe to fund that. We need to be able to protect our homes and farms. This affects people who farm and run tourist facilities along the west coast. Farms are businesses as well. We must protect businesses and those who live along the coasts of our country.
The Minister of State is doing a phenomenal job. On several occasions in August he broke off his holidays in Country Clare to visit Cork and other flooded areas. That reflects his character and the fact that he takes this role incredibly seriously. I thank him for what he is doing. I look forward to working with him to solve these problems.