Minister calls for Cabinet seat and €1bn flood works
'Public policy must shift towards a greater investment in flood defences over next decade'
Minister of State for Flood Relief Kevin Moran has called for a full Cabinet position to be created to focus on flood defences.
Mr Moran insisted the next government should have a senior minister for flooding who would be specifically asked to address the challenges posed by adverse weather.
He also said the Government needs to allocate more than €1bn to aid businesses and homes affected by flooding.
"I think the message is getting through finally, that public policy must shift towards a greater investment in flood defences over the next decade," Mr Moran told the Sunday Independent.
"The next Government must recognise this by appointing a senior minister in this area.
"A place at Cabinet is essential so the funding is maintained as a priority for flood relief measures," he added.
Mr Moran campaigned on flooding before being elected to the Dail and has made it the main focus of his time in office.
He insisted he is not seeking a full cabinet position to address flooding "out of self interest".
"My only interest is to see that the suffering experienced by people in floods is ended as quickly as possible," he said.
"That can only be done through greater investment in flood defence measures, through funding and other resources such as engineering staff, together with a general raising of public awareness in this whole area. A voice at Cabinet would be essential in this regard."
The minister said previous governments gave full ministries to areas of policy that required specific attention, such as the fisheries and forestry, gaeltacht, labour, and economic planning and development.
"The present Government has laid particular stress on children and youth affairs, and rural and community development, where policy objectives reflect the seriousness with which deficits have to be addressed for the betterment of the general public," he said
The minister's demand come after Storm Eleanor wreaked havoc across the country.
At the peak of the storm more than 130,000 homes, most in the west of Ireland, were left without electricity.
Business owners are also facing substantial bills to repair damage caused to their properties and goods by the floods.
The adverse weather followed Hurricane Ophelia in October, which itself is expected to result in more than €110m in insurance claims.
The Government announced last week that it has given €7m to local authorities for flood repairs. Since last June there has been major flooding damage to homes and businesses in Donegal, Portlaoise and Galway. Business owners and families have struggled to get insurance policies to protect their properties in these communities and other areas of the country.
Mr Moran said the Government's commitment to spend €430m on flood defences by 2021 is not enough - and the figure should be increased to €1bn.
"The Office of Public Works (OPW) knows what flood defence will cost the country over the next decade - somewhere in the region of €1bn.
"We must ensure that this funding is there, so that we can build on the 40 major flood relief schemes already in place across the country that are protecting 8,500 properties.
"We have just completed flood-risk mapping for the entire country, with which we are now aiming to protect a further 11,500 properties," he said.
A risk assessment report by the OPW also confirmed the Government would need to spend €1bn to address the problems caused by flooding.
The Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management Study also cleared the way for a €260m flood protection scheme that will benefit around 8,000 properties across the country.