Tuesday 6 December 2016

'We were angry at the thought of him coming' - flood victims on Kenny visit

Nicola Anderson and Caroline Crawford

Published 11/01/2016 | 02:30

A tearful Irene Shiel from Craughwell, Co Galway, challenges Taoiseach Enda Kenny about the floods that forced her parents out of their home Photo: Hany Marzouk
A tearful Irene Shiel from Craughwell, Co Galway, challenges Taoiseach Enda Kenny about the floods that forced her parents out of their home Photo: Hany Marzouk
An angry Paddy Kelly meets the politicians during their visit to Co Galway Photo: Hany Marzouk
Irene Shiel's parents, who were forced out of their home by floods Photo: Hany Marzouk

After 17 years working in the UK, Mary and Bernie Shiel moved home from England to rear their six children.

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They built a house on a small site in Craughwell, Co Galway, in 1985 and Bernie opened a school of motoring.

Their lives were peaceful and content - but as they entered their retirement, catastrophe struck as they were forced to deal with the flooding of their house in 2009 when the nearby Dunkellin River burst its banks.

They spent months out of their home while it was being refurbished and the insurance firm refused to pay out because of a clause in the small print.

Now, with Bernie aged 72, they are back in the same nightmare scenario just six years later. The river again flooded into their home in early December, forcing them to be rescued in a boat.

Their daughter Irene wept as she told Taoiseach Enda Kenny of her parents' hardship at a time "when they should be enjoying their grandchildren".

Mr Kenny met with flood victims over the weekend as he toured a number of areas affected by the flooding crisis.

And in an unannounced visit to regions of Galway badly affected by the floods, he gave his support to the digging of more channels like that dug in Kinvara in early January to alleviate flooding.

"We were all angry at the thought of him coming down and the meeting started off hostile," Irene said of the Taoiseach's visit to Craughwell.

But she was satisfied he had listened and shown empathy when he saw the damage for himself.

Irene said her parents were back in their home - although the now-bare concrete floors were sodden and the dehumidifiers were going night and day.

"Home is home and they wanted to return," she said helplessly.

She added that her parents were having difficulty accessing funds and had received €200 only in compensation so far, which "wouldn't even fill the tank with oil".

Irish Independent

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