Thursday 21 September 2017

After the floods, here comes the tsunami of political soundbites

Pointing the finger at the insurance industry is no substitute for a coherent policy on flood risk

Devestation: an image captured by the Air Corps of the area around Athlone last week Photo:Defense forces
Devestation: an image captured by the Air Corps of the area around Athlone last week Photo:Defense forces
Gerry Adams speaks to residents affected by flooding Photo:Press 22
Minister Simon Coveney with Civil Defence members in Co Clare Photo:Press 22
Brian Gavin and Gareth Williams Photo:Hany Marzouk
Colm McCarthy

Colm McCarthy

It is impossible not to feel sympathy for homeowners affected by the unprecedented flooding around the country. But there should be less sympathy for the dam-burst of instant political reactions. Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams was even driven to condemn as "insulting" the whistle-stop tours of flooded areas by politicians. He was speaking in Limerick during his whistle-stop tour of flooded areas.

The soundbite reactions have included demands that the Government build flood-proof defences in every threatened area and generally bury the problem in concrete. There have also been calls for the insurance industry to magic up some money, specifically to extend cover, at normal premiums, to householders stuck with uninsurable properties.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has scheduled what he rather ominously promised would be "frank discussions" with the insurers on Tuesday. They will doubtless remind him that several insurers have gone bust in recent years and that others have had to raise extra capital - they have a regulatory obligation to stay solvent. The floods, and the sound-bites, will subside in a week or two and a more considered response is needed.

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