'The land will take months to drain, but when will it ever recover?'
Published 06/01/2016 | 02:30
Birds, frogs and fish are getting priority over humans, while farmers' livelihoods and people's homes are swept away by the floods, it has been claimed.
John Comer, president of the Irish Creamery and Milk Suppliers' Association, yesterday visited swamped Clonlara, in Co Clare, and said: "It's soul destroying to see such devastation on such a scale."
Mr Comer called for a single waterways authority to be set up to organise the fastest method of getting water through the country's rivers and out to sea.
"We know the Government can't stop the rain, but they can stop the reign of confusion amongst the plethora of agencies that have jurisdiction and governance over the waterways of Ireland," he said.
"A lot of locals here feel, and have articulated to me that the birds, the frogs, and the fish, are getting priority over humans, and human suffering, in areas like this.
"You just can't live in a situation like this, it's not tolerable."
Dairy farmer Paudie Ryan has watched his business sail down the river which now flows through his farmyard.
"The land is lost, it's a massive financial loss," he said. Despite a four-inch drop in floodwater levels in Clonlara overnight, for Mr Ryan and his neighbours it's a case of the stable door slowly closing long after the horse has bolted.
"I've cows calving in the next week to 10 days, and I don't know where to go with them," he said.
Driving his tractor through the deluge that has completely flooded his farm, his eyes roll skywards as another shower of rain pours down.
"I had cows milking before all this and all that month's milk has been lost, it's gone... I had to stop," he explained.
Mr Ryan, and his elderly father Pat, were forced to evacuate more than 100 cows on to neighbouring farms after the water rose waist-high three weeks ago.
"It's a huge financial hit, it's a terrible inconvenience, and it's a terrible imposition on my neighbours," he said.
"It creates an awful lot of work and it creates a huge financial burden on me for the rest of the year, not just for now."
The yard, silo, feed and barn have been destroyed in the flood.
"The land will take months to drain, maybe March or April... but the question I can't answer is how long will it take the land to recover once the water goes off of it."