Thursday 18 October 2018

Homeowners hit by repeat flooding may be paid to relocate

Bridget Kinsella at her home in Springfield, Clonlara, Co Clare where flood waters are expected to rise. Photo: Brian Gavin
Bridget Kinsella at her home in Springfield, Clonlara, Co Clare where flood waters are expected to rise. Photo: Brian Gavin

Wayne O'Connor and Niall O'Connor

Homeowners, whose properties are located in areas worst affected by repeat flooding, would be offered compensation to relocate to higher ground under plans being considered by the Government.

Senior Coalition sources last night said financial packages may need to be provided to families who live in areas that have been repeatedly hit, particularly in parts of the Shannon catchment.

The news comes after Mr Kenny himself said a relocation plan may have to be implemented.

"We can't force people out of their homes so some form of package is needed," said a senior Government source.

Coalition TDs are becoming increasingly concerned that the fallout from the winter storms will become a major election issue.

The relocation issue and other matters are expected to be discussed by ministers during the first Cabinet meeting of the New Year.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday chaired an emergency meeting at Government Buildings as communities continue to reel from the devastating impact of Storms Desmond and Frank.

Despite the major clean-up operation that has been underway for days, several towns and villages remain flooded.

The country overall is on severe flood alert, as forecasters predict more heavy rain in the coming days.

Mr Kenny yesterday asked a number of his ministers to prepare detailed reports in relation to what is further required from Government in order to respond to the flood crisis.

"I have directed that the appropriate government departments bring memos to next Tuesday's Cabinet meeting outlining actions taken to date, and what further measures that can be taken to mitigate the suffering of those affected," Mr Kenny, who visited flood hit areas on Thursday, said in a statement.

The meeting lasted more than 90 minutes and was attended by Tánaiste Joan Burton, Chief Whip Paul Kehoe, OPW Minister Simon Harris and junior agriculture minister Tom Hayes.

It is understood that discussions took place around the prospect of giving a greater role to the Defence Forces as part of the overall response to the crisis.

A number of ministers, including Mr Kehoe, praised the work of army personnel and said an enhanced role for the army was an option that should be seriously considered in the future.

Meanwhile, senior Government figures are fearful that the flooding epidemic that has held parts of the country to ransom for almost a month has now become an election issue.

Families have complained that they have had difficulty drawing down money from emergency funds as they look to repair and save homes.

Concern is now growing among Government ranks that voters will turn angry in the next three weeks and then turn on the Government before the General Election in spring.

"It will be a huge election issue if it is not handled properly," said a Government source.

"People would be right to be angry. If it was my home that was hit I would be angry too," they added.

It's also expected that the Dáil will debate a bill tabled by Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy to establish a single authority to manage the Shannon.

However, some living on the Shannon think the creation of a single authority to manage the river is not necessary.

Irish Independent

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