Fianna Fáil spokesperson on the OPW and Flood Relief Eugene Murphy said that Ireland, as an island country on the periphery of Europe, must up the ante in terms of dealing with irregular weather patterns with the development of a stronger national framework to deal with severe flooding.
The Fianna Fáil TD for Roscommon/Galway was speaking in this Dáil this week during Fianna Fáil motion in relation to flooding in County Donegal under Private Members Business.
“Additional steps are required specifically in Donegal following on from the recent devastating floods. In addition the state must learn lessons from its handling of the deluge to ensure it reacts precisely in future when such incidents occur. From flood insurance and emergency relief to ensuring full investment in capital flood defences the government has to step up to the mark.
“The full committed €430 million, 6 year programme of capital investment on flood defence measures was announced as part of the Government’s overall Capital Investment Plan 2016 – 2021 should be realised. A new insurance model for flood affected and at risk homes should be rolled out nationwide. In Donegal sports clubs, business and farmers affected by the floods require further help. These measures should be introduced to build up Ireland’s capacity to cope with increasingly volatile weather conditions and an escalated flood threat,” said Deputy Murphy.
Deputy Murphy said that the flooding in Inishowen had opened up a bigger debate.
“All of us in this House will have to realise that there are massive changes occurring that are affecting the climate. Time and again in recent years we have witnessed flash flooding and torrential rain. There is a significant increase in the overall levels of rainfall but it is the pattern of the rainfall that is causing the devastation. In County Roscommon in one evening in June 2016 a total of 74% of the average rainfall for June fell in three hours. A similar situation arose in Donegal recently in the space of two hours. I believe 60% of the average rainfall for the month of August fell. That clearly indicates we are dealing with a different situation and we will all have to assess how we respond to it, regardless of the side of the House we are on. We will have to work together,” said Deputy Murphy.
The Fianna Fáil TD pointed out that as an island country on the periphery of Europe Ireland does not in any way have adequate defences.
“Even allowing for the type of storm that occurred in Donegal, one point was made to me time and again there, namely, the lack of maintenance. That is an issue all over the country. Last December the Government launched a plan to dredge the Shannon. The Minister of State, Deputy Moran, has spoken about the project in Banagher and some work has been carried out. However, we have lost almost one year and none of the work has been done. An arrangement was made with Bord na Móna on the River Shannon to remove silt and peat from the river but that has not been done either. We will have to carry out improvements and ensure regular maintenance is carried out throughout the country.
“I have no doubt we will face major problems in the coming years and we will have to be prepared for them. Engineers Ireland stated that our flood defences are below standard. It was said that we do not have proper flood defences and that our infrastructure lags behind. We must remember that we are an island country on the periphery of Europe and we are open to irregular weather patterns, which are becoming more challenging. We will all have to up the ante and do much more,” concluded Deputy Murphy.