Councillors and elected representatives from Athlone and Westmeath are reiterating calls for the Shannon to come under the control of one single authority.
Between local authorities and State bodies there are some 24 entities with a stake in the Shannon. Such a large number of groups, opinions, and interests can make a uniformed response to a flood situation complicated. Councillors have frequently referred to the issue at Municipal District Meetings.
Fianna Fáil Councillor Aengus O’Rourke said: “From our recent experience and that of 2009, we realise how many bodies have a say in controlling the Shannon. It is only serving to confuse the situation and to prolong any decision making. God knows a lot of decisions are required in these situations and the quicker they are made the better. So it makes perfect sense to examine the situation and come up with one entity when it comes to decision making around the Shannon.
“That one body would have to liaise with all those who have an interest in the river. But at the end of the day someone has to make the bold decisions necessary to protect the public and property, farms and businesses. At the moment we are on the edge of a very serious flood event, and it has only been through the white-knuckle efforts of volunteers and agencies that we don’t have a lot more damage. So we need to see action on this now.”
Deputy Gabrielle McFadden has revealed that she has appealed directly to An Taoiseach Enda Kenny on the matter. “I have spoken to the Taoiseach over the weekend about the real need to set up a single authority which has the power to make executive decisions for the greater good.
“I have been a long-held believer that there should be just one single authority responsible for the Shannon. I have urged the Taoiseach to strongly consider such a proposal which is being supported by many people who are living in flood-risk areas along the river. I understand there are 17 local authorities and seven State bodies all fulfilling their own remit along the river, but not one which has executive responsibility for its management.
“When action is needed to address issues, unfortunately bureaucracy gets in the way of good work being done. The single authority which I am calling for could have a representative from each of these agencies but with one person in charge.”