Flood victims to 'row in' for Athlone demonstration

An SOS has been sent out to communities marooned by flooding to “row their way” to Athlone today for a demonstration march, with organisers calling on the incoming government to make flooding a national emergency.
Flood victims to 'row in' for Athlone demonstration

The National Stop The Flooding Rally will take place at the Diskin Centre at Golden Island, Athlone, today at midday.

Organisers have called on people across Ireland, whose homes were destroyed in the floods, to come out and support the rally.

“We want a million people to get to this march. This isn’t just for Athlone, it’s for all of Ireland that has been flooded,” said organiser Mickey Dunning.

At the height of the flood crisis, around 300 houses were flooded, while 250 more homes remained under threat of flooding for weeks.

Another 130 families were left marooned by floods across both rural and urban divides.

Last December, Mr Dunning, 69, saw 12in of floodwater overwhelm his house in Carrick O’Brien, Athlone, for the second time in four years.

“The State is flooding our homes every year and nobody is doing a damn thing about it,” he said.

“I’m sick and tired of this and the authorities don’t give a damn,” he added.

When the floodwaters struck in 2009, Mr Dunning and others in his area received insurance to cover the cost of the damage to their homes, but they are now being refused flood cover.

Bridget Kinsella, whose home was damaged by flooding in Springfield, Co Clare, said politicians had not been seen in the area since the deluge subsided, only a few weeks ago.

“They come with the flood and they go with the flood. It was all publicity,” she added.

“We’re still getting daily text messages from the ESB who are releasing water down along the River Shannon towards our homes. They say everyday that we may be flooded again.”

She added: “There isn’t a word about flooding in the general election debates.”

Another Springfield resident Geraldine Quinlivan, whose home was also destroyed in the floods, said: “It’s a sad day when people are forced into protesting so they can stay safe in their homes.”

“This rally has come from one small community asking other small communities for help in raising this issue.

“Together, our voices will be stronger than one single voice,” she said.

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