Roscommon community urges State to act over flood barrier

Work on demountable barrier at Castleplunkett turlough stalled over access row

A community which was cut off by floods for several months last year is appealing for government intervention to ensure a protective barrier is erected at a local turlough. The regional road through Castleplunkett, Co Roscommon, was under six feet of water when the flood was at its height last year.

Funding was allocated for a demountable barrier at Castleplunkett turlough but, because of a disagreement about access, work has been stalled and local campaigners say legislation may be required to resolve such issues.

Eugene Murphy, a local TD and Fianna Fáil spokesman for the Office of Public Works and flood relief, said it was up to the Government to deal with these issues, by legislation if necessary. He said residents in Castleplunkett had been under siege last winter and were living in fear of what more heavy rainfall would bring. "We cannot have communities continually suffering," he added.

Local Fianna Fáil councillor Paschal Fitzmaurice also called for legislation to enable local authorities to acquire land through compulsory purchase orders in emergency situations. Once local resident Caroline Collins and her three teenage children were out of their home for five months until the end of May because the house was accessible only by boat.


Boat-only access

“We had to leave the house on December 27th and didn’t get back until the end of May,” she said. “There was six feet of water on the road outside and we could only get in by boat when we needed to collect a few belongings. I did go back in February to take down the Christmas tree.”

Evan Curran, chairman of Castleplunkett Flood Action Group, whose wife Catherine was expecting their second child when the flooding was at its worst , appealed for protective works to be accelerated. "We would reluctantly go down the CPO road, but if agreement cannot be reached then something should be done to speed up the process," he said.

Funding, believed to be in the region of €800,000, had been allocated to Roscommon County Council for the construction of a demountable barrier at the turlough.Mr Curran said the council had done a lot of remedial work on arterial drainage and raising local roads, but nobody could anticipate how the turlough would behave in the future. "People were forced to take 30km diversions to get their children to school or to get to work."

Mr Fitzmaurice said the road through Castleplunkett, the R367, provided the local link to the main Dublin-Westport road. "The deadline for drawing the funding allocated for this barrier was at the end of October but we hope we can resolve the issue in the spring."

Flood-preventive measures

Meanwhile, the Minister of State with responsibility for flood relief said a maintenance programme on the river Shannon would get under way shortly. "We're in action mode right now," Seán Canney told RTÉ radio's Morning Ireland. He added that people who took flood-preventive measures themselves would not be penalised. "We need a strategy to bring in flood relief, but we can't get to every place at the one time. The plan will start shortly, it will be something that will last."

He was responding to a report on a family in Clonlara, Co Clare, who claimed that because they had carried out preventive works themselves, they were passed over for funding and assistance.

Marese McDonagh

Marese McDonagh

Marese McDonagh, a contributor to The Irish Times, reports from the northwest of Ireland