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.
She met Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams, as he visited the swamped community yesterday where 17 homes are under threat from floodwaters.
“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.
Ms Quinlivan told Mr Adams: “The conditions we have lived in for the past month are almost inhuman.
We want structures put in place, irrespective of whether the general election happens next month or next week so whoever is in government they will continue on doing what we want them to do,” she said.
The mother of four said Springfield would be spared repeated widespread flooding if the River Shannon was dredged.
“There is a section of the river near the University of Limerick that is 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 catchment flood risk assessment and management study has actually proved this won’t happen, but it will help solve our problem here,” she said.
Mr Adams said he believed the answers to the flooding crisis along the Lower River Shannon lay in “three phases”.
Firstly, an immediate need to protect and help families who are at risk, also a compensation plan, but he said “I find it quite difficult to find out how you get that”. He also said Sinn Féin is putting forward a plan for a Shannon River Management Agency.
Mr Adams welcomed the “belated” setting up of a government flood taskforce but said it had no statutory powers.
Meanwhile, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney confirmed that relocating families was not among the priorities of options. He said flood-hit rural communities such as Springfield need to be prioritised over habitats.
About 5,000 sandbags have been installed in the Springfield area alone to help protect residences. Additional sandbags are available if required, the county council advised. He said long-term solutions were required to prevent serious flooding.
“We need to get our priorities right here. Obviously we need to ensure that environmental studies are completed before any work is done, but sometimes you to have to measure an environmental priority versus a human priority.
“In this instance, we need to be prioritising people in terms of where they live and protecting them from significant flooding,” he said.
However, Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley has said international evidence has shown that a variety of options including the creation of more flood plains that would involve relocating some residents has to be part of any overall solution.
Hugh McGrath, Killaloe district engineer, said water levels dropped 5cm on Tuesday night and are now about 15cm to 18cm below the November 2009 peak level, which was reached on Saturday night last.
“The council expect water levels to increase further and as a result standard operating and response procedures are in place in the event of additional flooding incidents occurring.”
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