Monday 24 October 2016

Floods pour cold water on Kenny’s climate plan

Published 08/12/2015 | 02:30

There are many reasons why those hit by floods question Government commitments to deliver
There are many reasons why those hit by floods question Government commitments to deliver

With 20,000 acres of land under water west of the Shannon, Taoiseach, Mr Kenny, was asked about our flood defences.

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“We are required to set out the areas where action has to be taken remedially to deal with flooding, and there are 300 such locations. Clearly these can be quite complex, given the topography, the geography and the hydrological surveys that are necessary to be carried out,” he explained helpfully.

So once we sort out the “topography”, “geography” and “hydrological surveys”, we’ll be grand.

The people of Bandon are not greatly reassured. They have been waiting since 2009 for help, and with one month’s rain to cope with in a two-day period, and more on the way, patience has been washed away. Simon Harris has pledged to have “shovels on the ground” by the middle of next year.

Just as storms like ‘Desmond’ are given a name, pledges like that issued by the minister are also described in colourful terms, but they are not printable.

As one business owner put it: “water has no mercy”.

There are many reasons why those hit by floods question Government commitments to deliver.

Even when State relief is offered, businesses find that it is too difficult to draw down, and the process takes way too long.

Only last week, Mr Kenny told the COP21 conference in Paris, that “big and small” had to take action to address climate change. He promised Ireland would play its part. But there was a caveat – as long as it didn’t hamper growth in the agriculture sector. Mr Kenny’s concern appears to be post-dated until after 2020. Only then will the State be in a position to meet “aggressive targets” to reduce agri-emissions.

But climate change is here and now. There may be nothing as unpredictable as the weather.

Atmospheric disturbances will always be different, but there is nothing as predictable as State excuses. It’s not credible to continually blame “abnormal” conditions which have long ceased to be so, as they repeat themselves every couple of years.

Political signals which are not encouraging

The time gap between now and the General Election is best denominated in weeks. But a number of political messages to the general public do not inspire public confidence. Last time we voted for TDs both our economy and our politics were badly shattered.

In February 2011 the new Fine Gael-Labour Coalition gave us a poetic promise of fundamental change. “Our country deserves a fresh start from the failed politics of the years past.” The new Government’s bible, “Statement of Common Purpose”, also said change must happen promptly.

Credit where it is due – our economy has shown great signs of recovery. But the same can hardly be said of how we order our affairs through our politics. Just take the first days of the current week. A parliamentary banking inquiry, which lasted a year and cost at least €5m, is drawing to a fractious and unsatisfactory close.  Last night on national television we saw serious allegations raised about the behaviour of some of our elected politicians. We await full inquiries.. Today we learn definitively that Fine Gael and Labour, our coalition partners of almost five years, are now seriously at odds with one another. The people who worked so hard over the last seven years to deliver recovery surely deserve better.

Online Editors

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