Flooded Clare residents ask Coveney ‘not to forget’ them

Springfield residents tell minister ‘if you protect Athlone you wash us away’

Simon Coveney visits Springfield in Co Clare on Sunday, where many residents have been forced from their homes due to flooding. Photograph: Simon Coveney/Twitter

Simon Coveney visits Springfield in Co Clare on Sunday, where many residents have been forced from their homes due to flooding. Photograph: Simon Coveney/Twitter

 

Homeowners who have borne the brunt of the floodwaters in Springfield, South East Clare, have asked Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney “not to forget” them.

Residents told their stories to the Cork TD, who was the first government representative to visit the devastated community, since it began to flood nearly a month ago.

Standing with the minister in the river that surrounds her home, Lisa Griffin asked the Cork TD to save the community, which is situated on the Lower River Shannon downstream from Athlone.

When the ESB-operated Parteen Weir reaches capacity, the company releases excess volumes of water, which in turn results in Springfield and the wider Clonlara area becoming flooded.

“If you are going to protect Athlone you are going to wash us away,” Ms Griffin told Minister Coveney.

“We don’t want you to forget Springfield.”

“We are badly effected. You are going to see it when you go down that road and (the water) is above your waist,” she said.

“We don’t want to be forgotten about, and we don’t want you to start up the country, solving their problems, because it’s going to get worse for us down here,” she said.

Ms Griffin and her partner Barry purchased their home last year from her father.

Addressing the minister with tears in his eyes, Ms Griffin’s father Greg said: “I’m after lumbering her with a house that is worthless. I feel lousy over it.”

“I moved house. I’m even (thinking about) selling my house now again to buy this house again back off of them, and my wife feels the same,” he said.

Minister Coveney told them the government “has an onus” to help them.

“I can assure you you won’t be forgotten about here,” he promised.

Liz Hogan explained how her home was evacuated on December 9th, with her family split between different relatives over Christmas and the New Year. They are still not able to access their swamped home.

She told the minister: “It’s not fair. Every year we have it. We can never enjoy Christmas, we don’t know whether we are going to be in our house.”

Philip Quinlivan asked for life jackets to keep him safe while he spends nights trying to protect his parents house which is surrounded by six feet deep floodwaters.

“Our lives are in danger,” he said.

“One of the guys from the civil defence, who had a sealed neck wet suit on, was walking past my uncle’s house — and the next thing all I could see was his hat. “He actually slipped into the ditch. He was lucky that he had a sealed wet suit, because if he was wearing the one that I am — which fills up if water gets in — he was a goner.”

Mr Quinlivan’s mother Geraldine, who was evacuated from the area last week when her health took a turn for the worse, told Minister Coveney: “we are at breaking point here now”.