Flood campaigners to plead for emergency funding

FLOOD campaigners will plead with a Government minister today for emergency funds to carry out vital dredging to protect a west Cork town from disaster.

The Bandon Flood Group is among two such groups due to meet Minister of State with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW) Brian Hayes during his visit to the Cork South West constituency today.

He will meet with the local flood group in Skibbereen first, before meeting the Bandon campaigners mid-morning.

They are hoping to persuade him to reverse an OPW decision to deny the dredging funds until long-term flood relief studies for Bandon are completed.

Bandon was swamped by a devastating flood in November 2009. Some remedial work has been done, an early warning system is in place and a feasibility study for a major flood protection scheme is advancing.

Following a further round of public consultation, it is expected that a preferred option will be chosen before the end of the year.

But it emerged last week that the OPW turned down Cork County Council’s application for funding to carry out summer dredging and cleaning works on the Bandon river.

Local Labour Cllr Gearóid Buckley said he couldn’t believe the decision.

“If a similar flood event occurs again, Bandon will not be in a position to get back on its feet,” Cllr Buckley said.

“Coupled with the recession, businesses are still closing as a result of the damage since November 2009.”

The county engineer’s department has now reapplied for funding and campaigners will press Mr Hayes today to release the funding.

Local Fine Gael Cllr Jim Daly said that “dredging would be helpful”.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny will address the 42nd plenary of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly at the Rochestown Park Hotel in Cork, today.

Mr Kenny’s keynote address will focus on the economy to tie in with the Plenary’s theme of Employment and Economic Recovery.

Other speakers at the plenary will include NAMA chairman Frank Daly, Enterprise Ireland chief executive Frank Ryan, the chief executive of the newly formed British Irish Chamber of Commerce, Peter Byrne, and Tourism Ireland chief executive Niall Gibbons.

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