Westmeath Sinn Féin Deputy, Sorca Clarke, is imploring the support of his political colleagues as she brings to second stage within Dáil Éireann the River Shannon Management Agency Bill.
“People dwelling along the River Shannon are perennially concerned with regard to the incessant flooding on a regular basis. They are tired of politicians coming out, availing of photograph opportunities and handwringing yet the cycle continues. They have had enough. What were once winter floods are now summer floods.
"This year alone there were floods in February and July and as we speak there are areas along the Shannon under water and under threat.
"Currently, there are 20 agencies from Waterways Ireland to local authorities involved in water management and maintenance of the River Shannon.
"Data shows that the risk of flooding is increasing and has unfortunately become a regular occurrence along the River Shannon. These floods are devastating to homes, farming lands and businesses, while communities along the Shannon are living in fear of the next flood hitting.
"Given the length and nature of the River Shannon there is a clear need for a co-ordinated approach among all agencies to co-ordinate.
"While I appreciate that the Government has established a working group in 2016 to enhance co-operation with the various agencies, the fact that we had widescale flooding in February of this year is testament to the fact that the approach has been ineffective.
"Ultimately, we need a statutory agency with the authorities, powers and accountability to tackle the flooding risk on the Shannon and ensure that we are not creating further problems in well meaning attempts to address issues.
"This was the approach advocated by Fianna Fáil when in opposition, just as recently as September when a Fianna Fáil TD for Laois/Offaly advocated for a single agency. Three of their TDs put forward legislation to establish a statutory agency for the River Shannon.
"Now in Government they have an opportunity to put this approach into action and I call on them to support this bill through the houses of the Oireachtas," Deputy Clarke asserted.