February 22: King’s Island flooding threat a key factor in regeneration

The threat of flooding in the King’s Island area of Limerick city was a key factor when the regeneration implementation plan was being designed, Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan told the Dáil.

The threat of flooding in the King’s Island area of Limerick city was a key factor when the regeneration implementation plan was being designed, Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan told the Dáil.

Speaking during a debate on the recent flooding, she said contact with the relevant people is ongoing in terms of whether we need to address the current difficulties in the context of the planning of regeneration.

Minister O’Sullivan said the very first person to come to Limerick to see what was happening there was Sean Hogan, chairman of the national emergency co-ordination unit.

“The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy Howlin, his Minister of State, Deputy Brian Hayes, and the Minister for Social Protection, Deputy Burton, also visited Limerick,” she said.

“The people of the city took heart from this timely response and from the visit from the President in recent days. The courage and solidarity shown by individuals and communities cannot be overemphasised. I witnessed a real coming together of people and all involved are to be hugely commended.

“Many different individuals have come together in order to respond to what is happening,” she said. “I saw one community welfare officer and a social worker from the local council walking around together and knocking on people’s doors. I met a public health nurse who literally arrived on scene, introduced herself and asked what she could do to help. Local health services, should they be required, have been put at the disposal of the local community welfare office. The co-ordinated response is ongoing.”

Steps will be taken to ensure that people can replace floor coverings etc., which have been destroyed, she said. “Contrary to what some have stated, there is assistance available for those who do not have insurance and who are working,” she said.

“An average family comprising one or two parents and two children can earn up to €70,000 a year and still qualify for support from community welfare officers. We must get the message out that there is help available. In the community in which I live, an information office has been opened at the offices of Limerick Regeneration in the King’s Island community centre. In addition, those who are not in receipt of social welfare payments or dependent on the State will have access to the Red Cross fund. One of the most important things we can do at this point is to provide people with information on what is available.”

Army deployed to Shannon Airport on 324 occasions in 2013

Defence Force personnel were deployed to Shannon Airport on 324 occasions in 2013 in response to requests for support from An Garda Síochána, Justice & Defence Minister Alan Shatter told the Dáil.

Replying to questions, he said the length of each such deployment and the number of relevant aircraft that land and take off during each deployment can vary.

“For example, on a given day troops may be deployed to Shannon Airport once, but the mission as formally requested by the Garda may relate to the arrival and departure of more than one aircraft,” he said.However, Wexford Independent Deputy Mick Wallace said it was amazing to learn that the Defence Forces were called on 324 occasions. “As the Minister is aware, Margaretta D’Arcy is still in prison,” he said. “It is interesting to note the comments of the former UN Assistant Secretary General, who highlighted that Ms D’Arcy’s refusal to sign a bond not to return to Shannon Airport is based on her belief in the Nuremberg principle of 1945 whereby individual citizens of any country have international duties and responsibilities that transcend national and domestic obligations of obedience to local law.”

Minister Shatter replied that what Deputy Wallace said was untrue. “He stated that the person he named had been asked to sign a bond not to return to Shannon Airport,” he said. “That is entirely untrue. What the person has been asked to do is to sign a bond to keep the peace. A condition of her release was that she does not enter a portion of Shannon Airport excluded to the general public. She is perfectly entitled to be in any part of Shannon Airport that is open to the general public. If common sense were operating and the lady in question were not being used by a small group of individuals as a campaigning tool in the context of the issue the Deputy referenced earlier, common sense would have prevailed and she would have signed a bond to keep the peace. If she wished to attend at Shannon Airport and behave in a lawful way, she could do so. There is no question of her signing a bond.”