Sunday 15 December 2019

Flood response preparations 'must be urgently improved' - Michéal Martin

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin Photo: Tom Burke
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin Photo: Tom Burke
John Downing

John Downing

THE floods over the past two months showed that Ireland was very badly prepared to respond to the crisis, Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin has warned.

Mr Martin told the Dáil that there was a lack of protocols on how anti-flood pumps should be deployed, local councils did not have enough personnel or resources, and the decision to abolish town councils in 2014 was shown to be wrong.

The Fianna Fáil leader said the Dáil, which returned today, was debating what happened during the flooding in November and December. But they should really be putting through measures which would improve preparedness, including a single authority for the Shannon River.

“’Who is in charge?’ was the mantra most frequently heard from communities in the areas hit by flooding,” Mr Martin said.

The Fianna Fáil leader said flood response plans had not been updated since 2007; there was an underspend of €34m on flood defences over the last two years; there was no action on a special fund for flood victims without insurance cover; and no action on a single Shannon authority.

The Taoiseach expressed his sympathy for householders, businesses and farmers hit by floods.  He said it was caused by the worst rain in 52 years, which was up to 300pc above average in some areas, and the Dáil record for June 30, 1948, showed very similar concerns about flooding showing the problem was not new.

Mr Kenny praised the response of local communities and also said local councils, Civil Defence and the army had done everything they could, while the Emergency Coordinating Committee had met 30 times since the first floods last November.

The Taoiseach said the British scheme for those without flood insurance had not worked well. He said he was engaging with the insurance companies to address a number of issues.

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