By David Raleigh
A mother whose home has been repeatedly flooded has threatened to chain herself to the gates of Leinster House in her campaign to secure flood protection for her family.
Geraldine Quinlivan from Springfield, Clonlara, Co Clare, said she wanted support across all political parties to help protect her and her neighbour's homes from the floodwaters.
Ms Quinlivan met Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, as he visited the swamped community this morning, were 17 homes are under threat from floodwaters.
Devastation in Clonlara. Local residents exasperated by repeated floodings and failure of govt action. pic.twitter.com/X9GRzFO2UT— Richard G McAuley (@richardgmcauley) January 7, 2016
"If I have to chain myself to the gates of Leinster House to get this sorted out - we have to sort it out - because we can't go through this again," she said.
"There are 17 families down here directly effected by this and this is going on since 1995...so something has to change."
Ms Quinlivan told Mr Adams: "The conditions we have lived in for the past month are almost inhuman."
"This cannot continue and we want cross party support on this," she said.
"We want structures put in place - irrespective of whether the General Election happens next month or next week - so that, whoever is in government, they will continue on doing what we want them to do," she added.
The mother of four said Springfield would be spared repeated widespread flooding if the River Shannon was dredged.
"I'm beating this drum for the last 10 years," she said.
"There is a section of the river near the University of Limerick that is only operating on only a quarter of its capacity, and that is why we have all the water up here, and there is no way for it to go through."
"We're told that if we cleaned the river there we would flood places downriver - well we won't, because the CFRAMS study has actually proved this won't happen, but it will help solve our problem here," she claimed.
Deputy Adams said he believed the answers to the flooding crisis along the Lower River Shannon lay in "three phases".
"First, there is the immediate need to protect and help families who are at risk," he said.
"(Second) there needs to be compensation put in place, and I find it quite difficult to find out how you get that.
"(Third), Sinn Fein are putting forward a (plan for) a Shannon River Management Agency."
Sinn Féin will introduce River Shannon Management Agency Bill next week in Dáil. Read it on Sinn Féin website. pic.twitter.com/emjCA75IN7— Gerry Adams (@GerryAdamsSF) January 7, 2016
The Sinn Féin leader said he welcomed the "belated" setting up of a Government Flood Task Force, but said it had no statutory powers.
Mr Adams said authorities managing the River Shannon "needed to listen to local knowledge" before implementing flood protection plans.
He said relocating flooded families should be "a last option", although he said he "wouldn't blame anyone" for wanting to move out of such areas.
Update (12.49pm): Clare County Council said that water levels on the Lower River Shannon at Springfield, Clonlara, have risen two inches following overnight rainfall and are now approximately 4-5 inches below the November 2009 peak level, which was reached on Saturday night last.
The Council says 8mm of rainfall during Wednesday evening and overnight has contributed to the rise in water levels but that "further increases are not anticipated during today (Thursday) as the ESB has confirmed its decision to maintain the flow of water downstream from Parteen Weir at 470 cubic metres per second (cumecs).
"Clare County Council Area staff, assisted by The Defence Forces, are continuing to provide support on the ground in Springfield, as well as assist in the transportation of residents of properties isolated by floodwaters."