Monday 16 December 2019

Victims confront Coveney, telling him 'this must not happen again'

Flooding victim Geraldine Quinlivan and TD Pat Breen in Clonlara, Co Clare, yesterday. Photo: Arthur Ellis
Flooding victim Geraldine Quinlivan and TD Pat Breen in Clonlara, Co Clare, yesterday. Photo: Arthur Ellis
Springfield resident Geraldine Mason telling Minister Simon Coveney how she has been made homeless by the flooding. Photo: Arthur Ellis
Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney helps Civil Defence members pull a boat through flooding at Springfield, Co Clare. Photo: Gareth Williams / Press 22

David Raleigh in Clonlara, Co Clare

A distraught mother of four battling horrific flooding confronted Defence Minister Simon Coveney to ask: "Who is going to mind my home tomorrow?"

Exhausted Geraldine Quinlivan told Mr Coveney that residents in Springfield, in Clonlara, Co Clare, needed action now, not in a year's time.

The shell-shocked mother began shaking under the stress of the past three-and-a-half weeks of watching her home succumbing to the flood water. Finally, as it began to rain again, she broke down just feet from Mr Coveney, who visited the area yesterday.

"It's very, very bad at the house today. My brother and his wife and their son could also lose their home again today.

"The water rose nine inches yesterday and my son is down there all night, along with the army and Civil Defence.

"I'm actually distraught."

Ms Quinlivan, who was evacuated last week, requested of the minister that a mud bank be constructed between the River Shannon and her flooded home and her neighbours' properties, which have all been engulfed by several feet of water. "Basically, we are looking for solutions, so this can never happen again," she said.

"I have a deep concern about the fact that my husband and my sons are going back to work tomorrow and who is going to mind my home tomorrow."

Another Springfield resident, Geraldine Mason, whose home has been flooded since early December, let the minister know the depth of her anger.

"I am homeless, I have no home at the moment. I cannot get down [there].

"I was down there on the 21st of December and killed myself below the whole day. I had to pump the water six feet deep in my home - and here we go again and it's not fair and nobody cares. It's been going on for years. I want to stay in my home and I don't want to leave it," she told Mr Coveney.

The Cork TD was the first Government representative to visit the devastated community since it began to flood nearly a month ago.

Lisa Griffin said: "We don't want to be forgotten about and we don't want you to start up the country, solving their problems, because it's going to get worse for us down here."

Ms Griffin and her partner Barry bought their home last year from her father.

Addressing the minister and with tears welling in his eyes, Ms Griffin's father Greg said: "I'm after lumbering her with a house that is worthless. I feel lousy over it."

Mr Coveney told them the Government "has an onus" to help them. "I can assure you, you won't be forgotten about here," he promised.

But the possible relocation of flooded families was not a priority for Government, the minister admitted.

Mr Coveney said it was "far too early" to begin such a measure, after Taoiseach Enda Kenny floated the idea last week.

"I don't think that we are looking at that option at the moment," he said.

"We need to look at more effective ways of managing [the River Shannon] flow to prevent flooding in the future. And only when we have done that will anybody concede that we have to start relocating people."

Mr Coveney added that there had to be a change in how the River Shannon was managed.

"We need to look at whether significant silting in parts of the Shannon is causing additional problems that could be prevented if we could move some of that silt."

Irish Independent

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