EU environment rules are not to blame for Ireland's flood crisis - Commission
The European Commission has hit out at claims that EU environmental rules are to blame for Ireland's flood crisis.
In an unusual move, the Commission released a statement in which it insists it is not standing in the way of the authorities if they wish to dredge rivers.
A number of TDs, including Government ministers, have called for rivers such as the Shannon and Suir to be dredged in order to prevent further flooding.
Planning and Housing Minister Paudie Coffey criticised "excessive red tape and bureaucracy" which he says is preventing landowners from protecting their homes.
Opposition TDs have also blamed EU rules as being part of the problem.
But a spokeswoman for the Commission rejected the criticism.
"Any suggestion that EU environmental rules are somehow to blame for the recent severe flooding in Ireland is completely without foundation," the spokeswoman said. "EU law does not ban dredging."
The statement emphasised that the Irish Government does not need to notify the European Commission about plans to dredge rivers as there is no such obligation in EU legislation.
"Dredging is not always the solution for flooding. It may help to sort out a local problem but it may also transport the problem downstream, sometimes from rural to urban areas."