Independent Deputy for Longford-Westmeath, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, has moved to reassure people over fears that rural Ireland has been forgotten about, following the publication of the Draft CFRAM Report on flood control measures.
He stated that talks are ongoing to identify tangible measures to alleviate flooding issues in rural areas, but also criticised the timing of yesterday’s protest outside the Athlone Civic Centre on Tuesday afternoon (August 23 ).
“We are trying to encourage people to make submissions to CFRAM but many people would not walk pass the protest to do so,” the Deputy said. “I understand why the protest was happening, but not when we are trying to encourage people to make submissions on the report.”
Deputy Moran said he has met with the IFA on several occasions and that he and Minister Canney are close to making some decisions with regard to flood protection measures in rural areas. “We have made huge inroads with agencies and bodies like the ESB, Bord na Mona, and Waterways Ireland - nearly every agency connected to the Shannon.
“We are thinking of rural Ireland. I am a rural man who comes from a farming background. I have seen the suffering first hand - I was in Golden Island, I was in Carrickobrien, Ballinasloe, and Cork. You name it; we visited nearly every place around the country - all the pinch areas that are causing problems. We are looking at options on how to proceed with these issues. Am I going to be able to solve everything overnight, no. But I will work hard towards doing so.”
Fine Gael councillor John Dolan attended the protest on Tuesday. Speaking the following day, Cllr Dolan criticised the lack of progress on defences for rural areas since the devestation of the flooding that hit the town at the end of last year.
“There is a lot of disappointment with the progress to date,” he said. “I think there is a lot of fear out there that people are going to go through the same suffering that they did last year. I think it is not good enough. From a farming perspective, we would definitely fear for the year ahead. Without a doubt there should have been some targeted dredging carried out and there’s no excuse for it. In my view it shows a lack of political will to do what needs to be done.
“I just feel for the people involved, I think we all thought after the last flooding event that there wouldn’t be any bureaucracy, that there wouldn’t be anything to stop work being carried out. Everyone is pointing the finger at CFRAM, but there was other work that could be done that was just ordinary maintenance work and really CFRAM shouldn’t stop that from happening, they aren’t stopping it in any other European country.”