herald

Saturday 10 December 2016

Martin calls for action to prepare for future floods

Micheal Martin
Micheal Martin

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has warned that the floods over the past two months showed the country is very badly prepared to respond to another crisis.

Mr Martin told the Dail that there was a lack of protocols on how anti-flood pumps should be deployed and local councils did not have enough personnel or resources.

He said it demonstrated that the decision to abolish town councils in 2014 was wrong.

The Fianna Fail leader said the Dail, which returned yesterday, was debating what happened during the flooding in November and December, but they should really be putting through measures which would improve preparedness, including a single authority for the Shannon River.

"'Who is in charge?' was the mantra most frequently heard from communities in the areas hit by flooding," Mr Martin said.

He said flood response plans had not been updated since 2007, there was an underspend of €34m on flood defences over the last two years, there was no action on a special fund for flood victims without insurance cover and no action on a single Shannon authority.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny expressed his sympathy for householders, businesses and farmers hit by floods. He said it was caused by the worst rain in 52 years, which was up to 300pc above average in some areas.

He said the Dail record for June 30, 1948, showed very similar concerns about flooding, showing the problem was not new.

Response

Mr Kenny praised the response of local communities and also said local councils, Civil Defence and the army had done everything they could, while the Emergency Coordinating Committee had met 30 times since November.

The Taoiseach said he was engaging with insurance companies to address a number of issues.

Mr Kenny said the Government would spend €470m on flood defences over the coming five years.

He said already €10m was allocated to humanitarian aid while a €5m hardship fund had been set up for businesses administered by local councils and the Irish Red Cross.

This had allowed emergency payments of €5,000 before Christmas with scope for further claims of up to €15,000 backed up by documentation.

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