Plans to fast-track the delivery of a flood-protection scheme for Midleton in East Cork have been unveiled.
County engineer David Keane suggested management of the scheme be transferred from the OPW to Cork County Council — a move which would require a transfer of some powers of implementation to the local authority.
It is understood that the suggestion is favoured by the OPW, given the huge demand on it for similar schemes.
The proposal was discussed at a special meeting of East Cork Municipal District councillors and senior council officials ahead of a municipal district meeting this week, the first in the wake of the devastating floods which have engulfed the town in the past week.
It formed part of an hour-long discussion from which the media were excluded.
Council chief executive Tim Lucey was represented at the meeting by divisional managers Declan Daly and Clodagh Henehan, senior executive roads engineer Dave Clarke, and director of services Maurice Manning.
Councillors expressed surprise that the briefing was held “in committee”.
Municipal district chairman Michael Hegarty said “some sensitive issues” were addressed.
It is understood that among the suggestions made was the need to establish a flood committee in the town — as had been done in other flood-risk towns like Bandon and Skibbereen.
Cllr Pat Buckley said when he attempted to convene an emergency meeting of the county council during the height of the flooding, he was told the “proper process” of 10 days’ notice should be followed.
Meanwhile, Irish Distillers, which runs Jameson Distillery and visitor centre in Midleton, has embarked on flood-defence works upstream of its facility.
The company, which drafted in industrial pumps at the height of Friday night’s flood to protect its plant, was widely praised for helping to minimise the impact of flooding on the town after the Dungourney river burst its banks about a mile upstream.
Mr Lucey, county mayor John Paul O’Shea, and Mr Hegarty visited the facility on Saturday and met with production manager Tommy Keane.
Mr Keane said: “We have agreed that we will review the causes of the flooding, in particular the Dungourney River overflow, and agree a scheme of works to reduce the risk of flooding, and provide effective flood management in the event of recurrence.”
The distillery managed to pump flood water from around the plant, from local roadways, housing estates, and from the rugby club.
A swift response from distillery staff, contractors, and emergency services greatly reduced the possible impact on the plant’s maturing whiskey stocks in warehouses, said Mr Keane.
The heritage centre’s auditorium suffered minor flood damage but it is open to visitors and full production resumed on Saturday.
As water taken from the river for distilling is processed through a filtration system, the plant has not been hit by the boil-water notice in effect in the area.
Meanwhile, members of Cork and Midleton fire brigades have been praised for preventing major flooding damage after a large water main burst near the North Esk industrial estate in Dunkettle, on the outskirts of Cork City.
ESI Technologies was one of several businesses under threat of flooding in the incident, which unfolded around 10am. Its operations manager, Barry O’Donovan, said firefighters arrived quickly, deploying sandbags, flood barriers, and pumps, and managing to keep the water, 60cm deep in places, at bay.
“They were on the scene quickly and managed to catch it in time. They were brilliant, in fairness,” said Mr O’Donovan.
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