Flood relief authority already exists, Harris says

Minister responds to Fianna Fáil’s calls for new body to manage impact of floooding

Minister of State with Special Rsponsibility for the OPW Simon Harris. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Minister of State with Special Rsponsibility for the OPW Simon Harris. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

Minister of State for the Office of Public Works Simon Harris insisted a statutory national authority existed to manage flood-relief projects.

He was responding to Fianna Fáil public expenditure spokesman Seán Fleming who called for the setting up of an authority.

Mr Fleming argued the OPW did not have authority to carry out works because other bodies had legal authority in different areas.

“It is not a question of whether we need to establish a statutory authority because we have one in place,’’ said Mr Harris.

He said the OPW was the lead State body for the co-ordination and implementation of Government policy on the management of flood risk in Ireland.

It was also the national competent authority for the implementation of the 2007 EU directive on the assessment and management of flood risk.

In that context, Mr Harris added, it carried out and implemented a wide range of measures and programmes aimed at mitigating and minimising the impact of flooding on society, including the catchment flood-risk assessment and management.

“The OPW carries out its flood-risk management functions with full statutory underpinning,’’ said Mr Harris.

General powers

He said the general powers and functions of the Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland, under whose authority the OPW carried out its work, were set out in the State Authorities (Development and Management) Act 1993 and the Commissioners of Public Works (Functions and Powers) Act 1996.

The commissioners, he said, exercised their powers and functions under the general consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform.