Monday 18 June 2018

Kevin 'Boxer' Moran says now is not the time for 'blame games' amid complaints of 'inadequate' flood warnings

Kevin 'Boxer' Moran assess the flood damage in Galway. Photo: Andrew Downes
Kevin 'Boxer' Moran assess the flood damage in Galway. Photo: Andrew Downes
Flood Relief Minister Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran

Sasha Brady

Minister of State for Flood Relief, Kevin 'Boxer' Moran, said this morning that Galway was taken by surprise by rising floodwaters during Storm Eleanor.

"Within 10 minutes some people were up to waist level in flood waters. They said they've never seen the likes of it before... it frightened people," he told RTE's Morning Ireland.

Responding to claims from local business and residents that adequate flood warnings were not issued from Galway City Council, Minister Moran said that a lesson can be learned but stressed that today isn't the day for "blame games".

"We had temporary measures in place from early yesterday with high tide warnings over Christmas but the measures we had in place weren't able to deal with that.

"I don't think today is a blame game. My job is to reassure the people that the Government is here to support them in any way we can."

Minister Moran, who is in Galway this morning, said the army has been deployed to the city and skips and humidifiers have been issued to business to assist them with clean-up operations.

He said councils and people need to be more prepared as these "extreme weather events are happening far too often".

"These storms are worrying trends and something we have to get real with," he said.

“I want local authorities to work with my department to fast track plans. People are fed up with waiting, they want to see machines on the ground,” he said.

Minister Moran said that more funding is required for the Flood Relief Schemes  - warning that up to €1bn will be needed to ultimately protect the country from floods.

He said he had enough money for flood relief activities up to 2021 and announced that parts of Galway are included in the 47 schemes which are to be prioriry.

Minister Moran also promised that updated flood maps will be available by the end of the month.

"The people of Galway have suffered enough. I’ve been around the country over the last number of months and seen four major floodings... and every local authority can learn in relation to what’s happening,” he said.

“I know that we have to sit down now and talk to the city and county managers because if you look at what happened in Mountmellick or look what happened in Galway or in Donegal, we have to learn from this because these extreme weather events are happening far too often.”

Gary McMahon, spokesperson for Galway City Council said that flood warnings received were for south Galway and they weren't expected to rise further.

"It confound us at high tide, the speed of the surge of water that came funnelling through Galway harbour and then flooded the streets around there... it was unprecedented."

However, Galway City Council said that the same precautions that were rolled out yesterday were rolled out during Storm Ophelia.

The Department’s Community Welfare Services staff will assess the level of service required across the country, particularly in the Galway area, which was hit with the worst of the flooding.

As the clean-up operations begin, financial supports will be made available to householders affected and the Humanitarian Assistance scheme activated as necessary according to the Government.

High tide has passed this morning in Galway with no flooding. However, emergency services remain on duty and there is a warning that high tide this evening might bring rising waters.

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