'We have to look at the speed with which we deliver these schemes. The process at the moment is not fit for purpose'
The new Minister of State at the Office of Public Works Patrick O'Donovan has said that he understands the frustration felt by the people of Enniscorthy over delays to the long sought Flood Defence Scheme for the town, however, he says his department remains committed to getting the project over the line as soon as possible.
Speaking on a visit to Rosslare where he officially announced a €7.5m Coastal Protection and Flood Relief Scheme, Minister O'Donovan said that process for getting urgently needed flood defence works over the line was no longer fit for purpose and was something that perhaps needs to be looked at going forward.
'I know there's a lot of frustration out there and that's understandable,' he said. 'Coming from a town that floods quite regularly myself in Newcastle West, I'm acutely aware of the frustrations that the people of Enniscorthy have to endure.
'I think, having served as a public representative for the past 17 years, we have to look at the speed with which we deliver these flood defence schemes. The process at the moment is not fit for purpose and we need a new methodology.'
'I know that these objections and environmental concerns and delays and procrastination cause the greatest level of ire for people impacted whenever there's significant flooding. We've seen success in the likes of Mallow and Clonmel, but the OPW needs to continue to work with affected communities. I can tell you, it's never the people who have sewage flowing in the front door and out the back door when there's flooding that add delays to these things.'
Minister O'Donovan said that upon taking office, he was immediately made aware of the situation in Enniscorthy by his Oireachtas colleagues Paul Kehoe and James Browne and said that he hopes real progress can be felt soon. Speaking earlier, he noted that 'it's not shortage of money' that generally holds up flood relief projects, but the tedious environmental and planning regulations that need to be followed.
The Enniscorthy Flood Defence Scheme went to public consultation yet again last month, with the closing date for submissions passing on August 27. Local elected representatives voiced their frustration in recent weeks as the proposed start date for the project was once again kicked back to 2021.