There was a moment of shocked silence during last week’s flooding meeting in Longford town, when an angry Cllr Paul Connell (IND) stormed out of proceedings.
The move by Cllr Connell came shortly after the company hired to carry out a new catchment flood risk assessment and management study (CFRAM) on the Shannon Basin highlighted five problem areas in Co Longford including Longford town, Abbeyshrule, Clondra, Edgeworthstown and Ballymahon.
Peter Smith, Jacobs Engineering Ireland Ltd, pointed out that “there will be controls in place along the River Shannon” and indicated that the company had engaged with various bodies whose members were adversely affected by local flooding.
“We have engaged with a number of bodies, and we are very aware that the IFA is extremely concerned about summer flooding,” Mr Smith explained further. “There is a perception out there that flooding has gotten worse, but we have compiled 100 years of data on flooding records of the Shannon and while it has become more frequent in the last 20 years - it is actually no more frequent than it was in the 1930s and the 1940s.”
“When are the levels of Loch Ree going to be lowered to 37.4 ODs?” enquired Cllr Connell. “This was actually agreed last month with the IFA and indeed other agencies - so what is going on?”
After waiting for a response, Cllr Connell was told by Mr Smith that there would be controls in place along the River Shannon and pointed to the fact that engagement had taken place “with a number of bodies”. “We are very aware that the IFA is extremely concerned about summer flooding,” Mr Smith explained further.
“Not more data - we have had 10 years of data - I am not interested,” fumed Cllr Connell as he walked through the doors of the council chamber, shaking his arms.
Speaking to the Leader afterwards, the local area representative said he believed the meeting was a “complete waste of taxpayers money” and pointed to the fact that it was risk management that was required on the Shannon “not more bloody data”.
“There was seven of them - people getting paid a lot of taxpayers money - there to tell us that they were gathering more data; seven,” he added. “This is a complete and utter waste of taxpayers money and I couldn’t listen to any more. Nothing is being done for the people of Longford who are being flooded and Mr Smith refused to answer my questions. Now we have a public consultation to determine the problem - I’ll tell them what the problem is - too much water.”