Living in fear of the next deluge
Published 10/02/2016 | 02:30
Farmers feeling the financial impact of severe flooding are demanding an urgent "clean up" of the Shannon river basin as they live in "fear" they'll be once again swamped by water.
The farmers in the Ballinahown area, around 8km on the Westmeath side of Athlone, felt under siege as their sheds filled up with floodwaters for weeks, dairy farmer John Dolan explains.
"We are used to flooding in Ballinahown but we are not used to the new flooding we experienced over the past few weeks.
The local farmers are living on their nerves," he says, highlighting the levels of silt and debris that have built up in the Shannon that has not been "maintained for decades".
"They know about climate change and they know about the state of the Shannon but they are feeling fear that this type of flooding will just become a way of life.
"If the Shannon was cleaned up it would put an end to this new flooding that we are experiencing and it put much less pressure on the flood defenses around the towns."
All of the 30 or so farmers have been inspected and passed for the fodder aid scheme introduced by the Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney but John says this is only a first measure and the doors of Department of Agriculture and other Government departments will be well knocked upon over the coming months.
"It won't stop with the fodder scheme," says John who is also known to many from his work as a FG councillor.