Solicitor for Cork flood victims demands accountability

A SOLICITOR advising several victims of the devastating flood which struck Cork city last November has criticised the Oireachtas report for failing to hold anyone accountable.

“The Oireachtas Committee report draws no conclusions about the responsibility for the flooding of Cork,” said Joe Noonan, of Noonan Linehan Carroll Coffey Solicitors.

An honorary legal adviser to the Cork Flood Action Committee, he said in the absence of any official will to tackle the problem, the people affected are left with no option “but to look to the courts as the only independent body in the state that they can turn to for a definitive ruling on responsibility”.

He said his legal practice has retained independent international consultants to report on the circumstances surrounding the flood event.

“When that report is received, we will be advising our clients on their legal options,” he said. Mr Noonan said the report simply points out the obvious — that the warnings and emergency response were inadequate.

“The first anniversary of the flood is approaching. It is now crystal clear that those in authority have no intention of initiating any independent investigation or inquiry,” he said.

“The cardinal rule in Irish public life seems to be that no matter what goes wrong, no one in authority can be held accountable.

“This in turn makes it impossible to identify the root cause of any problem and deal with it properly.

“No hard facts are established, no conclusions can be drawn, no steps are taken and people continue to live in fear.”

He said it is now left to residents and businesses who suffered the consequences of the flood to take action themselves through the courts.

Senator Jerry Buttimer (FG) said while the Oireachtas report is welcome in itself, it isn’t worth the paper it’s written on until those who are responsible are held to account.

“Minister Gormley must now have the political will to hold a full public inquiry if he’s serious about making a difference in government,” he said.

Labour Senator Ciarán Lynch, who was on the Oireachtas Committee, defended its report.

He pointed out one of its key recommendations is the setting up of an independent team of experts to conduct an in-depth investigation into the cause of the city’s flood and to report within four months.


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