Longford/Westmeath Fine Gael Deputy James Bannon, speaking in Dail Eireann regarding the recent flooding, said he was extremely angry that the Taoiseach did not recall the Dail over the weekend to deal with the hardship caused to so many in the Midlands and thoroughout the country.
Not only did the Taoiseach and the Government only accept when it was too late that a national flood alert system need to be put in place, but at a time of crisis he failed to ensure that adequate measure were speedily put in place to deal with the fall-out, according to Deputy Bannon.
“At a time when farmers, businesses, and householders are hit by economic recession, the Taoiseach now says that flood aid will be means tested. This is adding insult to injury when a question mark hangs over the payment of insurance in many cases,” he said.
“I am particulary conscious of the problems in Longford/Westmeath where folding has been extensive and destructive. With water levels at Lough Ree reaching 50cm over the highest levels on record and the discharge of water from the Parteen Weir continuing to rise, the threat to life and property is high.
“The Government appears to have once again had its head in the sand in relation to a national flood alert system. It took a crisis of the magnitiude of the past few days to finally get the message across.”
Deputy Bannon added that he has in the past advocated better management of the Shannon, in both the Dail and the Seanad, and has put forward proposals in relation to the establishment of a River Shannon authority.
“This is essential legislation for the protection of those living in proximity to the 386 km of river, which is a major division between east and west of the country.
“Such a statutory body would have overall control of river management and development in the Shannon catchement and Shannon navigation areas, from the source of the river to the Shannon Estuary in Limerick. The most important function of such an authority would be flood protection and alleviation and land drainage.
“A Shannon authority would provide a much needed structure and deal once and for all with the causes and extent of flooding in the Shannon catchement area,” he concluded