Farmers will open weirs along Shannon as flood anger grows
Farmers along the Shannon have warned they will open weir gates on the river to relieve flood waters rather than allow their lands to be devastated again by summer floods.
Up to 100,000ac in counties Roscommon, Galway, Longford, Westmeath and Offaly have been hit by severe flooding since early June.
The floods have provoked a war of words between farmer representatives and Waterways Ireland and ESB regarding water levels on the river. Farmers have now warned they will take action to open weirs at Meelick, Co Galway, to prevent future flooding in the middle section of the Shannon between Lough Ree and Lough Derg if State agencies do not react quickly enough.
Farmers claim water levels in Lough Ree should have dropped once heavy rainfall for the country was forecast on Sunday, June 3.
This they argue would have provided greater storage capacity for the flood waters in the upper reaches of the Shannon and reduced the impact of the floods on farmers downstream.
Farmer representatives insist that Waterways Ireland was slow in reacting to the flood in early June.
"At 5.30am on Friday, June 8, I visited the weir in Meelick and two thirds of the weir was still closed, despite the fact that the flood was rising rapidly," said IFA representative Michael Silke.
Mr Silke said the weir boards, which hold back water, were not removed until Friday afternoon, by which time the river was in full flood. He said the State body had been warned of the heavy rains the previous Sunday and could have done more to limit the impact of the flood.