Independent county councillor Michael Fahy has stated that, if elected to Dáil Éireann for Galway East in the forthcoming General Election, and if he “holds any association with the balance of power”, his support will be conditional on securing specific measures to tackle the flooding in south Galway.
Independents holding the balance of power after the General Election is a possibility, and should this situation come to pass, Cllr Fahy, if elected, is determined to be among those negotiating with the Government.
Cllr Fahy’s proposals are for two channels to be inserted in the region to clear the flood waters - one channel will run from Coole, in Kiltartan, to Cahermore, and into the sea at Kinvara; and the second channel from Kiltiernan into the sea at Brandy Harbour, Ballindereen; his third proposal is for the clearing of the Dunkellin River.
Although the proposals are not new, previous calls for such measures have met with opposition. In 2011 a report to the Galway County Council said “the primary solution to the flooding in south Galway is to get the water to the sea”. However an overland channel from Coole to Kinvara was stalled; the fact that much of the affected areas are SACs has also caused obstacle, while clearing the Dunkellin River has met with objections from oyster farmers.
However this is why Cllr Fahy has made these the central plank of his election campaign, and he is determined that the channels will come to pass. “If these three demands are met they will go 80 per cent of the way towards resolving the crisis into the future,” he said. “As an Independent there will be no one to restrain Michael Fahy and I will be on the Government’s case 24 hours a day until this problem is resolved.”
Proposals have been put forward to install new pipes into the area that would serve to drain flood water, but Cllr Fahy says this will not be sufficient. “Pipes will be no use,” he said. “The channels, in terms of size, will allow for a stronger flow of water and be as good as four large pipes.”
An official Dunkellin River and Aggard Stream scheme has been submitted to An Bord Pleanála for approval, with a decision expected at the end of February, but there is no guarantee that ABP will approve it. As a result, Cllr Fahy has also made this a “prime objective” in his campaign. While he is “aware that the Government has set aside” substantial funds for the works, even if approval is granted, work may not start quickly and Cllr Fahy wants no delay on any implementation.
“I’ll be telling the people of south and east Galway that Michael Fahy intends to be for them what Jackie Healy-Rae was for south Kerry,” he said. “The common good has to be put before all else.”