Saturday 22 October 2016

Proper forward planning for floods requires cultural change

Published 04/01/2016 | 02:30

Enda Kenny visits a flooded household in Carrickobrien, Co Westmeath. Photo: PA
Enda Kenny visits a flooded household in Carrickobrien, Co Westmeath. Photo: PA

The new year comes with the expectation of a new Government to follow. All parties had better pray that the floods have receded by the time they go knocking on doors.

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If the rain persists they'll be banging on the upstairs windows of some inundated homes.

One has nothing but compassion for all those stricken around the country.

Whether the main cause is our inability to confront climate change, years of failure in developing infrastructure - coupled with bad planning, building on flood plains and a lack of central coordination; or if it is a combination of all of the above - these people have suffered enough.

Clearly there are too many agents getting in each other's way. We have local authorities, the ESB, Bord Na Mona and the sundry Government departments all vying with each other to agree solutions for how best to manage the 225 miles of the River Shannon.

The time for a single over-arching agency is overdue.

The impact of poor planning and the failure to strengthen flood defences is also impossible to defend. The flooding crisis is analogous to that of the health services.

There are too many local interests involved. What we need instead is the enforcement of the best strategy for the country as a whole. Sadly, because our politics is so local and provincial, insular thinking determines actions, making it near impossible to implement central planning based on best practice.

Only an overhaul of the current political system will create the space for making the big decisions that will actually create the conditions for good governance. We need to move from merely reacting to managing and developing a culture of leadership that plans in advance.

MM O'Brien

Dalkey, Co Dublin

The other causes of accidents

A writer to your letters page (Irish Independent, December 31) asked "Why so many road deaths?", and cited reasons such as alcohol, drugs, mobile phones and radios as prime contributors. Tests for alcohol have long been a feature of traffic laws, and tests for drug use will shortly become a reality, which is very laudable.

However, there are other factors that, in my view, contribute to road accidents - and there are no roadside tests for these.

I would list the following as examples: bad driver judgment, slow reaction times, bad eyesight, driving while angry, carelessness, fatigue, stupidity, chancing your arm and pushing your luck.

I'm sure there are others that I have omitted. There are also technical changes such as speed limiters on cars, and the possibility of fitting fixed speed cameras every so many miles on major and even minor roads.

The drink-driving campaign of recent years has been very successful, so perhaps other campaigns to address the above list are required to improve driving standards in this country.

Tony Walsh

Tramore, Co Waterford

Burton's boating blunder

It is said that a rising tide will lift all boats. Well, in Joan Burton's case the opposite appears to be have happened. Perhaps this is an omen that Labour's boat/votes will sink come General Election time.

Richard Whitty

Swords, Co Dublin

Given Joan Burton has survived a fall in icy waters, should she now be called the thawniste?

John Williams

Clonmel, Co Tipperary

Government failed on floods

The Government waited until the residents of all the affected flooded areas were worn out from lack of sleep and worry, while trying to man pumps. The Defence Forces have resources to man and maintain pumps, with qualified engineers and mechanical people. At a time when border patrols are reduced and there is no troop shortage, our Government sat on its laurels.

John Carney

Curraghboy, Co Roscommon.

Will women win over voters?

Niamh Gallagher details various ways to ensure that more women than heretofore occupy positions of influence in this representative democracy (Irish Independent, January 2).

She left out the fact that members of the electorate will have to vote for them in sufficient numbers in order that they be elected. With the increased number of women on the ballot paper at the next election, it will be interesting to see how well they do in the competition for seats.

A Leavy

Sutton, Dublin 13

Pro-abortion inconsistencies

In her letter (Irish Independent, January 1), Bronwyn Molony tells us abortion must not be generalised, and that - like snowflakes - all abortions are different. She then tells us that no woman sets out to seek an abortion, and that all abortions are "the last resort". Let the campaign's contradictions begin.

Killian Foley-Walsh

Kilkenny City

Christian heritage of the West

Whether believers or not, everyone living in the West should respect and honour Our Lord's birth date - because they are so very blessed to be living in our great Western society, which evolved through the Roman Empire and is built on Judeo-Christian principles.

I'm neither embarrassed nor ashamed to say I'm a believer.

Christ's life - He really did exist - on Earth was one of love, healing and forgiveness. Sure, some terrible things have been done by some terrible people in Jesus's name. However, these were neither done nor condoned by Christ Himself.

So why do so many 'clever people' and 'cultural elites' so fear the Man, always turning His other cheek?

In that spirit of great tolerance and affection, I hope you all had a very merry and holy Christmas.

Howard Hutchins

Victoria, Australia

Irish Independent

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