Responding to flooding crisis
Sir, – On the subject of Joan Burton’s ill-fated visit to Kilkenny, I couldn’t help but notice that most of the printed letters (January 2nd) on the subject were light-hearted in nature. I would question what’s funny about a 66-year-old woman falling from a kayak at this time of year, but that’s for another day.
The vast majority of the letters of course came from Dublin addresses – those totally unaffected by the widespread flooding that is a continual, annual blight on this country. Having recently travelled the N7, N8 and N4, and through the far reaches of west Cork, I as a Dublin man can inform my Dublin cohabitants that while they might find it mildly amusing to see Joan Burton in the water, if they took the time to travel the motorways of Ireland they would see that there is nothing even remotely amusing about seeing vast swathes of the country looking more like a lake than productive farmland.
In many instances, the aforementioned national highways are like elevated dykes from which we can peer down at the misery.
I would exhort the incoming administration to appoint a senior minister with full and exclusive responsibility for flood relief. With our apparent forthcoming “boom”, we should be able to apportion a percentage to the construction of flood defences in the form of river barriers, sea barriers, river dredging, storm drains, drainage ditches and dykes. Environmentalists will tell us that with global warming, this issue is not going to go away. The Government has recently stated that it will spend €430 million on flood defences between now and 2021. This is not nearly enough. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Even in the throes of the heartbreaking floods across the country, it might be useful to reflect a little before questioning the role of EU nature legislation. The EU floods directive, adopted in 2007 following disastrous floods in central Europe, obliges member states to complete flood risk assessment, prepare flood maps and prepare flood-risk management plans by the end of 2015. So a great deal of the preliminary work necessary to minimise or alleviate flooding should now be completed and the experience of the 2009 floods will surely have enriched its quality.
EU nature legislation caters for situations where a project or plan must be carried out for reasons of overriding public interest. So there is no need for conflict between adequate flood control and nature, but very careful preparatory work will be necessary and nature can play as positive a part as engineering in any solution.
Finally, the general plight of nature itself is such that headline species have declined by more than half in recent decades as they are pushed to the margins not least by infrastructural development, land-use choices and climate change. Legislation that protects wildlife should not bear the blame for flooding when the same issues that have led to its decline also contribute mightily to flooding. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – Enda Kenny finally emerges to review the storm crisis that has been ongoing for over a month. When he does so, he and his friends share a joke as one unfurls an umbrella printed with the words “I love rain” (January 1st). There are many who do not love the rain, many for whom the floods of the last number of weeks have caused personal devastation and economic misery.
Cake, anyone? – Yours, etc,