Flood war as city manager rejects ESB statements

Cork's city manager Joe Gavin has rejected claims that he blamed the ESB for the devastating floods which hit the city last November.

Mr Gavin is reported in Cork's Evening Echo as saying he is "very surprised and disappointed" to read the comments made by the CEO of the ESB Padraig McManus, at a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Environment yesterday.

Mr Gavin said he gave several interviews to the media in the weeks following the flooding and at all times avoided any comment on whether the management of the dam was a factor.

Mr McManus said work was needed to mend the relationship between the two bodies.

Mr McManus said: “The City Manager’s report contained a number of inaccuracies. The most unfortunate part is that it was an effort to move the whole issue onto the ESB which was sad. It was an attempt to try and shift his troubles onto the ESB.”

However, Mr Gavin said he would be seeking a full transcript of yesterday’s meeting before contacting Mr McManus directly.

He added that he had run his report, delivered to council in December, by an ESB official and had never attempted to blame them for the floods.

Labour TD Ciarán Lynch and Fine Gael’s Senator Jerry Buttimer said the meeting led to serious questions about the communication between the ESB and local authorities at the time.

It was confirmed at the meeting that the last contact between the city council and ESB was at around 5.30pm on November 19.

Despite almost doubling the amount of water they released from that point on, ESB officials stressed the city council knew what was coming.

Executive director of ESB Power Generation, Pat O’Doherty said further information was required from bodies including the city council before reasons could be given for the devastating floods.

He said: “We made the warnings. What we want to know is what consideration was given to those warnings.”

ESB officials told the committee the company’s principal responsibility was to protect the dam and it had no choice but to release the water, and would do so again if circumstances arose.

Aideen Cronin was one of the flood victims listening from the public gallery.

Her home, which is also her business — Anam Cara B&B — has been empty since the floods.

She said: “If the ESB are responsible for the release of water then they have to be responsible for the consequences.

“From today’s meeting, it doesn’t sound like they are doing anything to stop it from happening again.”

Article courtesy of The Evening Echo.

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