Forget the hundreds of homes and businesses across the country which have been ruined because of the recent flooding.

Yesterday, Storm Frank claimed its biggest victim yesterday in Joan of Ark (as in Noah’s biblical flood vessel) Burton who suffered the ignominy of collapsing out of a canoe in water deep enough for a paddling pool.

As deputy prime minister, amid accusations of our Taoiseach being MIA, in recent days, Joan was in Co Kilkenny to visit business people and residents affected by Storm Frank and its aftermath when she landed in the water along the town’s quay. The quay has been submerged in flood water in the last few days.

Joan and her party colleague and junior minister Ann Phelan who is a local TD, got into their Ark and were being pulled along the quay by local artist Shem Caulfield.

As the two ministers began to move, the boat quickly lost its balance and Joan and Ann found themselves in the water.

Joan rivers: Tánaiste Burton capsizes during Storm Frank assessment

Ann could only laugh as Joan immediately sprang to her feet insisting she was “grand”.

“I’m very fast on my feet,” she said, adding that her boot-covered feet had remained dry , and it was just her legs that got wet.

“It hit off... there is a rock or something there,” she said to the gleeful media. The drenched pair were able to right themselves pretty quickly, helped along by a mortified Shem Caulfield, and jump aboard once again.

Poor Ann, think of the embarrassment. You bring your party leader to your home patch only to cause her to be drenched to the bone in half a foot of water.

Some commentators online said the spill was a perfect metaphor for Labour’s perceived impending election doom.

Joan, ever the trooper, did her best to put a brave face on the gaffe.

“I believe in politics you must push the boat out. Maybe not this way though!” she tweeted a short time and a change of clothes later.

“On serious note, my thoughts are with those affected by flooding. Govt will do all we can to assist, eg humanitarian assistance scheme in my Dept [Sic],” she added.

Meanwhile, for his part, Enda defended himself against opposition criticism that he has delayed for almost a month before visiting the areas and towns worst-affected by the floods.

Asked why it had taken him almost four weeks to make the first site visits, Mr Kenny said he had visited areas in his own constituency of Mayo which had been affected by flooding.

Met Éireann have confirmed that this was the wettest December ever recorded, with the rainfall being three times the normal average for this time of year, and five times greater than December 2014.

Areas in the south and the south-west are in for further pain as heavy rainfalls are forecast for the coming days. Areas along the Shannon remain on high alert with Athlone most at risk, but Limerick City too was of concern.


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