News Letters

Thursday 27 October 2016

No excuse for Government's failure to protect us from floods

Published 02/01/2016 | 02:30

Flooded fields and roads near Athlone, Co Westmeath.
Flooded fields and roads near Athlone, Co Westmeath.

I applaud the gist of your editorial saying that leadership and courage are required in the face of adversity (Irish Independent, December 31). This is the truest test of civilisation.

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Our elected representatives cannot be responsible for natural calamities such as flooding and hurricanes. However, they are endowed with inalienable powers and authorities to install advanced safety technology, and preventative strategies to protect their populace and enhance community resilience to withstand water-borne diseases and health security threats. There can be no excuse this time. Our regions have faced and are bound to face extreme weather conditions in the future. Animals, plants, the elderly, the infirm, the disabled, the homeless, the downtrodden, the refugees and the poor are often those who bear the brunt of climate change.

A country should be judged by the way it treats its weakest and most vulnerable citizens. As Hubert Humphrey put it: "The moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children, those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped."

Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob


Assisted Decision-Making Bill

The Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Bill 2013, which President Michael D Higgins has just signed into law, is an especially important piece of legislation for people whose mental capacity may be impaired (eg, some people with dementia) and their families ('President signs new asylum law after concerns', Irish Independent, 31 December 2015).

The new law will replace Ireland's outdated Ward of Court system and includes a presumption of mental capacity.

All interventions must minimise restriction of rights and freedom, and have due regard for "dignity, bodily integrity, privacy and autonomy".

The legislation presents tiered legal frameworks for "assisted decision-making" (where a person voluntarily appoints someone to assist with specific decisions); "co-decision-making" (where mental capacity is reduced but the person can still make specific decisions jointly with a co-decision-maker); and "decision-making representatives" (substitute decision-making).

There are also provisions regarding "enduring power of attorney" and "informal decision-making on personal welfare matters" (including healthcare).

When implemented, these measures will increase compliance with the United Nations' Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Most importantly, they articulate a renewed emphasis on placing the person's own "will and preferences" at the heart of all decision-making.

Brendan D Kelly

Professor of Psychiatry, TCD

Joan makes a splash

Given her ill-fated voyage in Co Kilkenny recently, perhaps we should refer Joan Burton as Jonah Burton from now on.

Ian Cahill

Mullingar, Co Westmeath

Is Irish water the cause of Joan's downfall again?

Declan Heaney

Claremorris, Co Mayo

Joan Burton has evidently taken the notion of going with the flow a little too literally.

Her unfortunate close encounter with flood waters left her in a little over her head; proving once again that while many politicians like to talk the talk, very few of them have actually perfected the art of walking on water.

But at least Ms Burton sought to paddle her own canoe, whereas our commander in chief took to the air in a helicopter.

Enda Kenny will find it hard to connect with the grassroots from a high altitude. While it is admirable to seek an overview, having one's feet firmly on dry ground during a time of crisis is advisable, as Ms Burton will aver.

Before Storm Frank struck, the Coast Guard issued a caution to "stay high and keep dry".

Mr Kenny evidently heeded it while Ms Burton might have listened more closely.

M O'Brien

Dalkey, Co Dublin

The solution to flooding

It has been my intention to write this letter for a few years, but I have kept putting it off as I have never written to the papers before. But the problem re-occurs annually: each time it gets worse; and so something has to be done.

The floods will not disappear, for with climate change, the impact of aviation, traffic pollution and the unstoppable emissions from China, we can expect more of the same.

Now in medicine, if someone had a build-up of poison, what do we do? We lance the area.

The solution to flooding is that we must get the volume of water back down to sea level right away.

The only answer is a controlled tunnel, combined with a canal at various points in order to discharge the water at a height of three metres above the Atlantic Ocean.

The results would mean spectacular effects for the Wild Atlantic Way.

The draining off would have to be done at about halfway down the Shannon, perhaps discharging from the coast of West Clare.

If the levels were controlled for the first part of the Shannon, it would mean the high volumes of water would not be putting pressure on the lower areas.

The devastation over wide areas is too serious to ignore and all options must be explored.

Irish Water might also avail of the chance to use some of the water to fill some lowland and midland bogs and convert them into reservoirs.

We would not then be in the laughable position of being one of the wettest countries yet having the worst water supply.

Joe Monaghan

Dublin 7

Penalties for landlords

Recently, new legislation was brought in by Finance Minister Michael Noonan whereby a landlord who compels tenants to vacate the property to put it up for sale but subsequently does not sell it would be liable for a fine of €3,000.

Now my question for Mr Noonan is this: will the same penalties apply to the banks who repossess a property, making another family homeless?

There is a housing crisis all over the country, although it is mainly in the cities.

Yet no one has suggested that the banks - whom we bailed out - played a large part in creating this crisis in their feeding frenzy for profits.

Mike Mahon

Templeogue, Dublin 6W

Irish Independent

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