Friday 30 September 2016

Taoiseach: New Shannon flooding taskforce 'is not a charade'

Published 06/01/2016 | 17:11

Taoiseach Enda Kenny with a householder in the floods which surround Athlone last week
Taoiseach Enda Kenny with a householder in the floods which surround Athlone last week
Taoiseach Enda Kenny onboard a tractor trailer as he toured the area of Carrick-On-Shannon. Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Taoiseach Enda Kenny outside the Dunning household before he visited following flooding in Carrickobrien, Ireland. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Enda Kenny visits a flooded household in Carrickobrien, Co Westmeath. Photo: PA
Enda Kenny visits a flooded household in Carrickobrien, Co Westmeath. Photo: PA

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has strongly rejected criticism of the new taskforce being set up to deal with flooding along the River Shannon.

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The body, which will bring together all of the agencies involved in managing the river, has been described by Opposition parities as a "talking shop".

READ MORE: Martin defends decision to only visit flood areas in native Cork  

But speaking in the Netherlands today, Mr Kenny said: "I reject the assertion that the Shannon Management Group is nothing more than a charade and a photographic session.

"It is taking the estuary of the Shannon, the entire Shannon base and managing it through a range of opportunities and responsibilities that many of the agencies have and what you need is an effective working strategy that will allow for major or minor works to be carried out over the period of this year, next year and the year after and for many years to come."

As part of the response to the devastating floods of recent weeks the Coalition has asked the Office of Public Works (OPW) - the statutory body responsible for flood protection - has been asked to spend the next two weeks devising the powers to be given to the task force.

READ MORE: Weather warning extended as torrential rain due to hit country today  

Mr Kenny defended his handling of the crisis but admitted that more still needs to be done to deal with the fallout of storms Desmond, Eva and Frank.

Asked if the response has been enough, he said: "It is not enough and we will continue to do more and when we have an assessment from the local authorities in respect of roads and bridges we will respond appropriately, provide that money to the local authority but have them then point out to their communities that timescale and the works they intend to carry out for the monies from the governmennt to which we will respond."

READ MORE: Flood-hit homeowners given extra time to pay property bills  

He said long-term forecasting was a must and the €18m already made available to local authorities for the clean-up operation would be increased as the need arises.

"The Minister for Transport pointed out quite righty that he cannot give a figure of damage done by water to roads and roads structures unit the water subside but the Government will respond to that and we will respond in a way that people will understand they are not being left behind here.

He added: "I would hope the weather will improve. Obviously I don’t have any control over that."

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