Taoiseach concedes Government must do more on flooding

‘Encouraging signs’ worst of deluge over, says response committee

The National Co-ordination Group said conditions are expected to turn cool and dry while river levels continue to fall. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

The National Co-ordination Group said conditions are expected to turn cool and dry while river levels continue to fall. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

There are encouraging signs the worst of the flooding is over but overnight rainfall could cause problems on some roads, especially in north eastern counties.

John Barry, chairman of the National Co-ordination Group which is directing the response to the floods, said conditions were expected to turn cool and dry for a period of five or six days while during which river levels continue to fall.

“We are beginning to see encouraging signs,” said the group’s chairman John Barry. “But we feel we are not out of the woods yet. We would like to see further encouraging signs before we feel the worst has past.”

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has admitted the Government will have to do more to respond to the damage caused by the flooding. He said the Cabinet had acted swiftly to put in place a range of measures, but that more needed to be done and further funds must be made available.

Speaking in the Netherlands where he is on a trade mission, Mr Kenny said the response “is not enough and we will continue to do more”.

He said that when the Government had an assessment from the local authorities in respect of the cost of repairing roads and bridges it would “respond appropriately, provide that money to the local authority but have them then point out to their communities the timescale and the works they intend to carry out for the monies from the Government.”

Additional funds

He said additional funds would be required for local authorities in addition to the €18 million agreed. “The Minister for Transport pointed out quite righty that he cannot give a figure of damage done by water to roads and roads structures until the water subsides but the Government will respond to that and we will respond in a way that people will understand they are not being left behind here.”

The Taoiseach also rejected criticism from opposition parties about the Shannon Co-Ordination Group.

Fianna Fáil has labelled it a talking shop while Sinn Féin has alleged it is useless without legislative backing.

“I reject the assertion that the Shannon management group is nothing more than a charade and a photographic session.,” Mr Kenny said. “It is taking the estuary of the Shannon, the entire Shannon base and managing it through a range of opportunities and responsibilities that many of the agencies have and what you need is an effective working strategy that will allow for major or minor works to be carried out over the period of this year, next year and the year after and for many years to come.”

Normal weather

Mr Kenny’s remarks came as Met Éireann meteorologist Gerald Fleming said a normal winter weather system will bring about 15mm to 25mm of rainfall over Wednesday night. A status yellow rainfall warning was in place across the country overnight.

Brendan McGrath, from the City and County Managers’ Association, said this rain could cause flash flooding when it lands on saturated ground in counties in the north and northeast, such as Cavan, Monaghan, Meath and Louth.

Mr McGrath said flood relief works were continuing across the country and would continue for some time, but there has been a “relative stabilisation” in the past couple of days.

Jim Casey from the OPW said the water level in the upper Shannon catchment area fell by about 4cm since Tuesday. Levels in the mid-Shannon catchment area remained unchanged while a “small increase” of about 2cm was recorded in Lough Ree.

Water levels in Limerick city and on the Inny and Brosna rivers have also fallen significantly.

The Suir, Barrow, Nore, Slaney and Boyne rivers have also fallen but remain in a high-flood situation, he added.

The ESB said levels in Lough Derg decreased marginally in the 24 hours to Wednesday morning and that the flow of water through Parteen Weir would remain at 470 cubic metres per second.

The company advised that the levels in the lake may still reach 2009 levels in the coming days and, as a result, the flow through the weir may be increased. “This level of water flow will continue to have associated flooding to land and property in the vicinity of the Shannon downstream of Parteen Weir,” it said.

A five or six day period of cool, dry weather been forecast but temperatures are also due to fall, potentially causing issues such as dry ice.