TD wants €6m Athlone flood defences built

Work should start immediately based on OPW cost estimate, says McFadden

Flood-defence work in Athlone should begin immediately if the cost involved is only up to €6 million, said Fine Gael TD Gabrielle McFadden .

The Office of Public Works (OPW) has provisionally estimated flood defences in Athlone will cost between €5 million and €6 million.

Mark Adamson, who manages the CFram (Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management) programme on behalf of the OPW, said a potentially viable flood defence programme for Athlone is possible for a relatively small cost. By contrast, flood defences for Clonmel have cost €40 million.

In response Ms McFadden said: “If it is only going to cost that much, they [the OPW] should do it.”


However, she warned flood defences in Athlone might have knock-on consequences downriver.

“Water will always find its course. If they do remedial work in Athlone and they don’t do it above or below Athlone, the water will have to go somewhere. This will have to be done right.”

Temporary work

She said

Westmeath County Council

should immediately apply for up to €500,000 in grant aid from the Government to carry out temporary work until a permanent solution can be found.

Temporary walls could be built at the docks in Athlone and at the Strand, she said.

“We need remedial defences that will be there for the next five years while we are waiting for the long-term solution.

“We have to do an overall thing from the top to the bottom of the Shannon. It will take three to five years to put that in place.”

Westmeath County Council's district manager in Athlone, Pat Keating, was cautious about the prospect of flood defences in Athlone costing a relatively small figure.

High priority

“We hope that they [the OPW] can identify flood defences for Athlone, that it gets a high priority and that the funding is made available for it,” he said.

“They are talking to us on the ground, but it has been a long process to get to where we are already and from there to where we are putting infrastructure on the ground. What we are talking about is a draft document that the OPW is preparing that will go to government. This is part of a study that is still in progress.”

Mr Keating said preparation had largely worked in the Athlone area to keep flood waters away from homes.

“To date, we still have a single-figure number of houses that are flooded,” he pointed out.

Mayor of Athlone Tom Farrell said if the OPW believed it had a plan in place the project should be started as “soon as possible”.

“We have got nothing other than reports for the past years. People can’t suffer any more reports. There has to be action taken. In other parts of the country, flood defences seem to be working,” Mr Farrell said.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times