February 28: Limerick deputies outline storm damage in the Dail

An outline of the recent flood damage to County Limerick was given to the Dáil by Limerick Deputies. Speaking during a debate on the rennet flood damage Deputy Dan Neville said he wished to refer especially to the basin of the Maigue and Deel rivers, which have been flooding along both basins.

An outline of the recent flood damage to County Limerick was given to the Dáil by Limerick Deputies. Speaking during a debate on the rennet flood damage Deputy Dan Neville said he wished to refer especially to the basin of the Maigue and Deel rivers, which have been flooding along both basins.

“The particular problem which has caused many difficulties is what happened along the Shannon Estuary,” he said.

“In Foynes there was a very serious situation where the flood defence wall, built only nine years ago, was unable to protect Foynes in January when the flooding took place. An old earthen bank which was removed some years ago would have done so.

“Nobody - I include the chairman of the Shannon Foynes Port Company, CIE and the Office of Public Works, OPW, which I would see as the people and bodies responsible for the area - anticipated what happened,” he said.

“It is important that these organisations, including Limerick County Council, get together to ensure the situation is responded to. I commend the Shannon Foynes Port Company, which has already invested €60,000 in trying to protect the situation. However there is concern that on March 3 high tides are again expected and people in Foynes are concerned that a similar occurrence would take place.”

Fine Gael Deputy Patrick O’Donovan said now is a good time for local authorities, the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Inland Fisheries Ireland and the Office of Public Works to come together under the new rural development programme and incentivise landowners with proper technical advice to carry out drainage.

“If there were a proposal now to drain the Moy and Boyne rivers - both of which projects were very successful under the arterial drainage programme - habitats, birds, fish, larvae and everything else would be put ahead of the individual towns and villages along those routes to prevent the drainage works from being carried out,” he said.

“We must ask ourselves which habitat we value most - the human one or the animal one. I witnessed this in Athea in County Limerick when it flooded in 2008.

“Gravel had almost to be put back into the river because the National Parks and Wildlife Service did not like the fact that Limerick County Council was taking it upon itself to relieve an eye of a bridge. We cannot continue to have that type of situation.”

Neither was he suggesting that somebody should be allowed put a digger in a river and take out gravel willy nilly.

“We need to change the present model,” he said. “The Office of Public Works is not taking on any new channels because it does not have the resources, but it will never have the resources, no matter how good the economy.

“Therefore, we need to examine the issue seriously. Our weather has changed; of that there is no doubt. One issue that is indisputable is that our channels and water courses are in a diabolical condition all over the country. Local authorities do not have the wherewithal to deal with them and landowners are afraid to deal with them. Somebody needs to put an overall package in place.”

Garda Siochána under the spotlight for wrong reasons - Collins

An Garda Síochána and the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, GSOC, have been under a sustained spotlight by all of us for the wrong reasons as a result of the surveillance controversy, Fianna Fáil’s Spokesman on Justice Niall Collins told the Dáil.

“We all want a strong Garda Síochána and Ombudsman, and we want to work with them as best we can,” he said.

The tone of the narrative was set by the Taoiseach, he said, who stated on the airwaves that GSOC had to level with the Minister.

“That was most disappointing,” he said. “We then had the public expression of regret by GSOC, having paid a visit to the Minister’s office, and that served to undermine GSOC’s independence.

I asked Mr. Simon O’Brien about that at a committee meeting and the public perception was that the body’s independence was undermined. That is also on the record.

“The Garda Commissioner sought public clarification arising from a GSOC statement early in the controversy before the Garda Representative Association and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors sought the resignation of the Ombudsman,” he said.

“It was all very unseemly and neither the public nor any of us liked it. Much of the narrative, particularly that coming from the Government, was unhelpful, as I stated.”