Wednesday 7 December 2016

Flooding crisis tops agenda at Cabinet meeting

Lesley-Anne McKeown, Press Association

Published 01/01/2016 | 15:00

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Reuters
Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Reuters

THE ongoing flooding crisis is to top the agenda at the first full Cabinet meeting of the New Year.

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As thousands of beleaguered home and business owners are braced for another night of heavy rain, government ministers have been instructed to bring forward memorandums on the impact of the floods and how to help those affected.

Enda Kenny, who has been forced to deflect criticism of his handling of the situation, said: "I have directed that the appropriate government departments bring memos to next Tuesday's Cabinet meeting outlining actions taken to date, and what further measures can be taken to mitigate the suffering of those affected."

The Taoiseach was speaking after a specially convened meeting of the National Emergency Coordination Group in Dublin.

The Department of the Environment is report on long term flood forecasting while the Department of Transport will advise on damage to infrastructure.

On Thursday, Mr Kenny toured some of the worst hit areas along the Shannon basin and further south in Co Cork from the air and on the back of a tractor.

He first viewed the extent of the floods from the skies with the Air Corps before travelling to the Carrickobrien region, which has been deluged with water since the first significant winter storm swept in from the Atlantic in mid-December.

The Taoiseach added: "People affected by the ongoing flooding continue to show enormous resilience, and the community spirit in evidence, in tandem with the relentless work of local authorities and emergency services, cannot be commended enough. The voluntary work done locally, in particular, has been outstanding.

"Indications are that adverse weather will continue, so I've asked that all ministers and officials remain vigilant and continue to manage the flood challenges across the country."

Tanaiste Joan Burton, who also visited flood weary home owners in Co Kilkenny, said: "I have seen at first hand the bravery shown by people faced with the recent appalling weather. I want to commend all of the emergency and voluntary services and the local authorities for their sterling work, and to remind everyone that further adverse weather is forecast, and challenges remain.

"I also want to remind people that the community welfare services are available to everyone in flood affected areas and I urge people to avail of these services."

Met Eireann has issued a Status Yellow warning for counties Carlow, Kilkenny, Wexford, Cork, Kerry, Tipperary and Waterford with between 25 and 35 millimetres of rainfall forecast for the next 24 hours.

The ESB has also warned that the flow of water through Parteen Weir on the River Shannon will increase to 470 cubic metres per second and that levels in Lough Derg may reach those of 2009 in the coming days.

In Co Clare, the emergency services are evacuating residents of about 12 properties isolated by flood waters as levels on the Lower Shannon at Springfield are expected to increase as a result of the decision to increase the Parteen Weir spill rate.

In Limerick, council staff are also on high alert and are continuing pumping operations in Castleconnell and Montpelier.

Water levels on the Mulkear River, which enters the River Shannon downstream of Annacotty are also being continuously monitored.

Press Association

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