Government support for flood victims is vital
Published 10/12/2015 | 02:30
Those who doubt that farming is the ultimate profession of hope need only look west of the Shannon. If the forecasters are correct, residents and businesses have little chance of respite as water levels along the lower River Shannon are due to rise again. And with swathes of the country already flooded in the wake of Storm Desmond, livelihoods are on the line .
Yesterday the national group co-ordinating the response to the floods met. Currently the office of Public Works, the ESB and local authorities all work to monitor and respond. The Defence Forces are also involved.
Obviously, as the water continues to rise it is next to impossible to protect all properties. But with the renewed threat of severe floods it is critical that control is centralised and all emergency responses are coordinated. There was a truism amongst mariners that it is not the storm but how one reacts to it that counts.
The ESB's forecast of river levels for the next five days predict that water levels will reach 39.60m by Monday.
This was an increase of 390mm above current levels and would be close to the maximum level recorded back in 2009.
An Garda Síochána, Irish Water, the Defence Forces and the HSE are all on standby.
Everything must be done to help locals. It used to be said that there is only one thing more unreliable than the weather and that's government. This has certainly been true in the past, but this Government has a chance to do better.
Currently, businesses hit by flooding cannot get insurance; it behoves the State to introduce a backstop fund to encourage insurers to come on board. It is also only fair to suspend rates on stricken firms that have been impacted because the authorities have not followed up on flood barrier commitments. Emergency funds to assist victims must also be in place and made instantly and easily accessible.
Communities have shown spirit and commitment by working through the night to save properties. A similar level of support is the least they should expect from their paid public representatives.
Free up gardaí from red tape and desk jobs
The damning 'Changing Policing in Ireland' Garda Inspectorate report pinpoints fundamental problems and ought to be adopted as a blueprint for remedial action.
A persistent complaint has been that too many gardaí are tied up in desk jobs and entangled in red tape. Their presence would be far more valuable on the street. It's hard to argue with that logic. The report also identifies a "two-tier" community policing system in Ireland which sees most Community Gardaí deployed to Dublin. Rural communities suffer as a consequence.
The Inspectorate's chief, Robert Olson, should be commended for the clarity and honesty of the report. Particularly striking is the fact that in 2015 An Garda Síochána is using technology more than 30 years out of date.
They are handicapped by computer-aided dispatch technology of a "1980s vintage computer system". Equally alarming is the fact that they are still recording emergency 999 calls using paper. There is even a four-year backlog in examining computers confiscated as evidence in child sex abuse cases. A "culture of blame" was also identified. Taken in isolation, any one of these weaknesses would be regarded very seriously, looked at in their totality they are a cause for grave concern.