Farm Ireland

Wednesday 21 March 2018

OPW urged to provide farmers with with emergency funds after flooding

Heartache: Cllr Peter Roche beside a flooded field at the home of farmer Joe Fahy in Killererin, Co Galway. Photo: Ray Ryan.
Heartache: Cllr Peter Roche beside a flooded field at the home of farmer Joe Fahy in Killererin, Co Galway. Photo: Ray Ryan.

Tom Gilmore and Caitriona Murphy

Farmers all over the country have been left counting the cost of high winds and flooding as Ireland was battered by storms.

Gale-force winds knocked down trees, power lines and damaged farm buildings in almost all counties over the past week, while heavy rain flooded large tracts of land.

Data from Met éireann showed that rainfall levels reached more than three times normal last week, while several more inches of rain are forecast for the coming days.

Weather stations in Oakpark in Co Carlow and Roches Point in Co Cork recorded between two and three inches of rain, equating to more than 300pc of normal levels for the time of year.

However, stations at Valentia and Cork airport recorded even more rain, amounting to three-and-a-half inches last week.

Farm buildings in the Abbeyknockmoy and Killererin areas of north Galway were flooded and livestock evacuated to neighbouring farms and sheds in recent days.

Farmer Joe Fahy from Killererin lost his year's supply of turf when his sheds were flooded and he was forced to move his cattle from the slatted house as the floodwaters rose. He is now travelling two miles twice a day to a slatted shed donated by a neighbour.

Galway county councillor Peter Roche has called for flood relief measures or compensation to be made available to farmers whose sheds and slatted houses were damaged.

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Cllr Roche called on the Office of Public Works (OPW) and local authorities to fund new drainage procedures or compensate the farmers.

He said emergency funds had been made available in the past to repair homes, and the scheme should be extended to fund new drainage procedures in areas around farm buildings that are prone to flooding.

"While I appreciate that funds have been made available for repairs to flood-damaged homes I feel that it is now time for the OPW or local authorities to extend funding to cover measures being put in place that would help alleviate flooding at some farm buildings.

"In some instances a small amount of money being made available to dig channels and drains may be all that is needed and unless this happens, many farmers will be forced out of business by the floods," he concluded.

The north Kerry area around Lixnaw also suffered during the last two weeks, according to local dairy farmer, Kevin Galvin.

"We'd never seen the likes of the wind before, especially what we experienced on St Stephen's night," said Mr Galvin.

He estimated that at least four farmers within two miles of his farm has seen their sheds suffer significant damage.

"It was only the older sheds that lost roofs or collapsed - none of the sheds built during the grant scheme were affected," he said.

He believes that a bigger problem may be the issue of getting slurry out when the spreading period re-opens next week.

"We got 220mm of rain during the month of December so ground is totally saturated now and there's no hope of it drying out enough between now and next week."

Richard Connel, who farms near Mizen Head said that farmers were coping with the weather reasonably well.

"There's been a couple of roadways washed away down along the Sheep's Head pennisula, but I think it was worse further up along the west coast," he said.

However, farmers in west Clare were not so lucky. James Griffin lost one of his yearlings when a wall in his shed collapsed in and broke the animal's leg.

"The sea breached a 6ft high stone bank and started pummelling the outer wall of the shed," explained Mr Griffin.

"We were lucky that more animals weren't hurt but they managed to burst open the gates on the shed with the fright they all got," he said.

Fellow Clare farmer, Pat O'Donoghue urged all farmers who have suffered serious losses from flood or wind damage to document everything and put it in writing to their local authority.

Irish Independent

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