County council won't repair flood embankments

Kerry County Manager Tom Curran.
Kerry County Manager Tom Curran.

Mary Murphy

KERRY County Manager Tom Curran has rejected out of hand any suggestions that the Council take on the responsibility of repairing damaged flood embankments in the county, despite pleas from home owners.

While stressing that he had a lot of sympathy for people affected by recent flooding, Mr Curran said the "bottom line is we have no responsibility for it", adding that the council had been 'burned' by previously getting involved in flood embankment work.

He said work had been carried out by the council in an agency capacity for the OPW but that it had to be wound down when funding was not forthcoming.

Subsequently people took legal action against the council for not completing the work.

"We cannot risk losing cases like this because we did the 'Good Samaritan'," Mr Curran said.

"We have limited money, and our priority has to be getting beaches and other areas open, to fix our public infrastructure and our roads - these are the lifeblood of the county and they have to take priority over private property."

Kerry County Council Director of Services Ger MacNamara said: "Kerry County Council is not responsible nor was it ever responsible for the maintenance or repair of the old Land Commission embankments".

He was unable to pinpoint exactly who is responsible for their upkeep but said The Department of Agriculture was not taking up where the former Land Commission left off. The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has suggested that flood embankment works should be carried out by the property owners concerned.

However, Cllr Michael Cahill claimed at the February monthly meeting of Kerry County Council that the embankments do not appear in the property portfolios of any of the families he knows that have been affected by recent flooding.

Cllr Cahill said someone needed to take responsibility and he could "fully understand why legal action was taken" by property owners.

"It is not fair that people are being sent around in circles," he said, "These people are on the verge of a nervous breakdown."

Cllr Michael O'Shea agreed, stressing that someone needed to intervene to protect homes and businesses.

"What are we doing to protect these people, will they be left with no alternative only to relocate. Will they be left at the mercy of the Atlantic," he said.


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