February 15: government pressed on flood relief funding

There is no doubt lives would have been lost in King’s Island in Limerick in the recent flood damage but for the dedication and professionalism of the emergency services, Limerick Fianna Fáil Deputy Willie O’Dea told the Dáil. The residents, he said, had woken up on a Saturday morning to their own particular version of Dante’s Inferno.

There is no doubt lives would have been lost in King’s Island in Limerick in the recent flood damage but for the dedication and professionalism of the emergency services, Limerick Fianna Fáil Deputy Willie O’Dea told the Dáil. The residents, he said, had woken up on a Saturday morning to their own particular version of Dante’s Inferno.

“What will be the position on people whose houses have been destroyed and rendered uninhabitable,” he asked.

“These houses fall into two categories, namely, those owned and rented by the local authority and those privately owned. Will the local authority effect repairs to these houses? Is it possible to repair them? Does the local authority intend to rehouse people, and if so when will something happen in this regard? Is it possible to have a timetable for this?”

Deputy O’Dea said the Minister of State Brian Hayes would be aware from his visit to Limerick that many of these people have been put into facilities for the homeless and others have gone to live with relatives.

“This situation cannot continue indefinitely,” he said. “What is the position with regard to those who own their houses, particularly those who do not have insurance because they are specifically excluded from having flood insurance?”

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell said he had visited the areas affected and the spirit shown by the people living there is nothing short of phenomenal.

“They rallied and worked with the services. Outside of Saint Mary’s Park and Lee Estate, areas such as Athlunkard Street, Corbally Road, the Mill Road in Corbally and areas in Thomondgate were badly affected. People should never have to go through this again.”

The issue of insurance has been raised, he said. Many of those living in affected areas do not have insurance because they could not obtain it. “How is this being considered in discussions with the insurance industry and in dealing with the loss of possession and homes, which Deputy O’Dea also raised?”

In reply, Minister of State Brian Hayes said he very much welcomed the announcement earlier by the Taoiseach that an additional amount of €15 million in humanitarian aid is being made available by the Government to assist those affected. “This will go some way towards dealing with the immediate financial needs of the people whose homes have been damaged.”

“It was agreed also that the regeneration project for this area will proceed and that a permanent solution for flood protection of the island will be incorporated into the overall regeneration of the island,” he said. “Limerick City and County Council will take the lead role and will be advised and funded by the OPW in regard to the flood relief elements of the works.

Some works have already been carried out to enhance flood defences in Limerick city, he added.

“Obviously, what is needed in Limerick city, as in other parts of the Shannon, is to proceed with the catchment flood risk assessment and management, CFRAM, programme and that plan is already under way,” he said. “We have established the Shannon CFRAM study. Jacobs have been the consultants. They were appointed in January 2011.”

O’Donovan: equal treatment of services for rural dwellers

Whether one lives in Ballsbridge or Ballingarry one should be able to access the same level of service, Fine Gael Deputy Patrick O’Donovan told the Dail.

Speaking on a new Bill which will allow the ESB to provide electronic communications services such as broadband, he said certain primary schools in my area have difficulty accessing basic broadband speeds for use with interactive white boards. Recently, he said he had a discussion in Limerick Institute of Technology with a company that uses new technology in a games based environment to teach basic principles of maths and science to students at primary level and junior certificate level.

“The new Junior Certificate will make the child an active agent in his or her own education,” he said. “What better way to be an active agent than to have access to high speed and reliable broadband? I refer to the broadband service that is currently available in many parts of the country as “bogband” because of its slowness and unreliability. We can expand children’s horizons by allowing them to interact with children in schools in Ireland and around the world so that they can draw on the experience of other teachers and schools. If one can access high speed broadband in Ayer’s Rock, in the middle of Australia, why is it not available in rural parts of Ireland?”