An emergency scheme must be put in place for farmers following significant flooding on the banks of the River Shannon, says outgoing minister of state for the Office of Public Works (OPW)and Flood Relief, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran.
Mr Moran, an Independent TD who lost his seat for Longford-Westmeath at the recent general election, defended the Government’s record on flood defence, saying previous administrations had taken no action on the problem.
“If you look at where we came from, we took it from where it was and now we have 98 schemes ongoing around the country,” he said. “Governments of the past put nothing into flooding, this Government. People might criticise it, but we put €1bn into flooding.”
Mr Moran moved to reassure frustrated locals in the Carrick-On-Shannon area that a new weir will be installed in the region to alleviate flooding as part of a €10m scheme. Criticism had abounded in the area that those works had not been carried out in advance of the recent heavy weather to mitigate the fallout.
“That commitment will be honoured, I can assure you,” Mr Moran said.
Prolonged rainfall across the midlands in recent days has led to heavy flooding along the Shannon, with more than eight inches of rain falling in recent weeks.
“That is an enormous amount of rainfall,” Mr Moran said on RTÉ Radio yesterday. He has never seen conditions at this time of year like those experienced in recent days, he added.
“There will have to be an emergency scheme put in place for the farmers, I’d like to see that,” he said.
Calls for such an emergency scheme were echoed by IFA president Tim Cullinan.
“We need real action to protect farmers and other members of these communities,” said Mr Cullinan. “The fact that insufficient action has been taken to manage the River Shannon is a contributory factor in the flooding crisis.”
He said he consulted with farmers in Longford in the last week who raised with him the problems being experienced by those working the areas along the river.
“With better monitoring, we could avoid some of the problems we have now,” said Mr Cullinan.
Those sentiments were echoed by the association’s regional chairman for Connacht, Pat Murphy, who said the severe rainfall caused “havoc” on farms.
“The Government needs an overall strategy to tackle the flooding issue which has affected areas such as the Shannon catchment area and other river areas throughout the country,” said Mr Murphy.