Wednesday 28 September 2016

Support flood-hit traders with your Christmas shopping - heartfelt plea

Published 10/12/2015 | 02:30

Catherine Lynch pictured with her son Sean in a boat at the flooded entrance to their basement and Garage at the side of their house at Carrowkeel Co Sligo .
Picture Credit Frank Mc Grath
Catherine Lynch pictured with her son Sean in a boat at the flooded entrance to their basement and Garage at the side of their house at Carrowkeel Co Sligo . Picture Credit Frank Mc Grath
Maeve Sweetnam, owner of La Modeliste on Oliver Plunkett Street, Bandon, Co Cork
Don O'Sullivan, owner of the Munster Arms Hotel in Bandon indicates the floodwater level during Storm Desmond

A flood-hit trader issued a heartfelt plea for support from shoppers in the run-up to Christmas.

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Maeve Sweetnam warned that if Irish people were upset by the scale of the flood damage nationwide this week and want to do something practical to help, they should undertake some of their Christmas shopping in water-devastated communities in Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Clare, Galway, Mayo and Westmeath.

Maeve operates La Modeliste fabric shop on Oliver Plunkett Street in the west Cork town of Bandon.

She was proudly open for business yesterday - despite her shop having been under almost 60cm (two feet) of flood water early last Sunday morning.

"I opened here 22 years ago," she said.

"This shop is my pride and joy. In 2009, the floods in Bandon left water over five feet deep in my shop, almost over my own height.

"This time we were a little luckier but there was still between 18 inches and two feet of water here."

Maeve admitted that what made coping with the flood devastation easier was the incredible community spirit and solidarity amongst traders.

"I had a human chain of friends, neighbours, family and customers here in the shop," she said.

"We were taking stock from the shelves and passing it along the chain upstairs to where it would be safe from the flood waters.

"Bandon is open again for business - that's my Christmas message."

Meanwhile, a Bandon hotelier who has battled floods for 16 years warned that red tape and bureaucracy was making the problem even worse.

Don O'Sullivan owns the Munster Arms Hotel - a hostelry famous as being one of the last places visited by General Michael Collins on the day he was killed.

"I have 40 staff here, we're building up to the busiest season of our year and we shouldn't have to worry about avoidable problems," he said.

Just as Don and his staff were preparing to host a 60th birthday party in the popular hotel last weekend, they received word the River Bandon and River Bridewell were about to flood.

The Bridewell flows into the Bandon just metres from Don's hotel - and poses an enormous flood risk.

"I've been begging the council for years to allow me to take small measures just to protect the business and the street," he said.

"I've asked about doing some work with a manhole underneath the bar of the hotel and got nowhere.

"Now I'm being told it is an issue I have to bring up with Irish Water.

"I also asked about building up the stone wall by the River Bridewell. I even offered to pay for the cost of the new wall myself but heard absolutely nothing back."

Irish Independent

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