FARMERS are demanding a radical change in the country's flood-management system.
Yesterday, they told the minister with responsibility for flooding, Martin Mansergh, that they wanted an immediate end to the multi-agency approach to the problem.
At least six different agencies -- the OPW, ESB, Waterways Ireland, Fisheries Boards, National Parks and Wildlife Service and local authorities -- have a role in the management of the River Shannon, which was responsible for much of the devastating flooding in the west in November and December.
New IFA president John Bryan said it was time for control of the largest waterway in the country to be vested in a single body. "Several bodies are responsible for something in the Shannon, but there's nobody responsible for anything," he told farmers in Ballinasloe.
The IFA leader was addressing the first public forum on the flooding crisis, which left tens of thousands of acres of farmland under water.
Mr Bryan said: "The plethora of agencies involved in waterways policy has contributed to the flooding problems."
Mr Mansergh said he wanted to assure everybody concerned that the Government was focused on tackling the issue.
"The OPW will be the lead agency in terms of flood protection. But we can't simply instruct the ESB what to do. We need to co-operate and collaborate with other authorities.
"But I think that (as a result of) the last couple of months, people's lives and livelihoods do have to take precedence over other considerations."