“Birds, frogs, and fish are getting priority over humans and human suffering” while farmers livelihoods and people’s homes are swept away by the floods, the president of the Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers Association has said.
Dairy farmer Paudie Ryan is one of those who watched his business sail down the river that now flows through his farmyard.
“The land is lost, it’s a massive financial loss,” said Mr Ryan.
Despite a 4in drop in floodwater levels in Clonlara overnight, for Paudie and his neighbours, it’s a case of the stable door slowly closing long after after the horse has bolted.
“I’ve cows calving in the next week to 10 days, and I don’t know where to go with them,” he said. “I had cows milking before all this and all that month’s milk has been lost, it’s gone... I had to stop.”
Mr Ryan and his elderly father Pat were forced to evacuate more than 100 cows onto neighbouring farms after the water rose waist-high three weeks ago. “It’s a huge financial hit, it’s a terrible inconvenience, and it’s a terrible imposition on my neighbours,” he said.
The yard, silo, and barn have been destroyed in the flood.
“Feed and everything else is gone,” said Mr Ryan. “The land will take months to drain, maybe March or April... but the question I can’t answer is how long will it take the land to recover once the water goes off it. It could be up to 12 months maybe, before it can go back to doing what it does best, growing grass crop for the cattle.”
ICMSA president John Comer, visiting swamped Clonlara yesterday, said: “It’s soul-destroying to see such devastation on such a scale.”
He called for a single waterways authority to be set up to organise the fastest method of getting the water off the land and out to sea.
“We know the Government can’t stop the rain, but they can stop the rain of confusion among the plethora of agencies that have jurisdiction and governance over the waterways of Ireland. A lot of locals here feel, and have articulated to me, that the birds, the frogs, and the fish, are getting priority over humans, and human suffering, in areas like this. You just can’t live in a situation like this, it’s not tolerable.”
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