UCC and Cork residents welcome Supreme Court ruling on 2009 floods

ESB found liable for catastrophic flooding which damaged many homes and businesses

A flooded Grand Parade in the Cork city floods. Photograph: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

A flooded Grand Parade in the Cork city floods. Photograph: Daragh McSweeney/Provision

 

Barry Keane, one of the many residents along Cork City’s Mardyke whose homes were flooded in 2009, welcomed the Supreme Court’s ruling as “a great result for people whose homes were so dreadfully damaged”.

“The Supreme Court judgment recognised that the ESB were required to manage flooding as best they could as well as produce electricity,” said Keane, a spokesman for the Mardyke Residents’ Association.

Many of the association’s members have claims for damages for the flooding piggybacking on the UCC/Aviva action, which was ruled upon by the Supreme Court.

This has gone on for 11 years and it didn’t need to take this long and it shouldn’t have taken this long

“Their negligence was to ignore their own data that showed that the amount of rain being absorbed had decreased from 40 per cent to 20 per cent. That meant that an ordinary storm would become as disaster.

“Not reducing water levels to a minimum meant a containable flood, based on previous experience, became a catastrophe,” said Mr Keane, adding that the residents were fortunate UCC had the financial means to take on the ESB.

Erred

Solicitor Joe Noonan, who represents several dozen homeowners and some business owners whose properties were damaged in the flood, said the ESB had erred in appealing the High Court decision in 2015.

“This has gone on for 11 years and it didn’t need to take this long and it shouldn’t have taken this long. It comes too late for some of my clients, who have passed away.

“For others the hardships that they faced have been intensified over the past decade by the manner it was fought,” the Cork solicitor went on, saying the ruling has implications for many of his clients.

Many of these people, with properties from just downstream of Inniscarra Dam all the way through to Grattan Street near the city centre, have been unable to get flood insurance since 2009.

Damages

In turn, that has affected the ability of his clients to sell or develop their properties. All of these factors will now have to be taken into account in their actions for damages against the ESB, he said.

In a statement, UCC thanked the Supreme Court for the time it had taken in hearing and considering “this long-running and complex case”. It would, it said, consider the court ruling with its legal team over the coming days.

Its insurer, Aviva, is committed to promoting awareness of the importance of flood risk management, and this ruling provides an important clarification on the obligations of dam operators and property owners , it said.