Mayor of Athlone, John Dolan, has called for the introduction of a national grant scheme for the provision of flood defences for rural properties.
Councillor Dolan made the call at Monday’s meeting of the Athlone Municipal District (November 7 ). He told the chamber he knows people who had gotten flood defences for their properties valued at between €17,000 and €20,000. He remarked that such figures amounted to “small money” when one considers the benefits and peace of mind it will offer to owners of properties at risk.
In referring to one rural home, he said: “You build either concrete walls or inflatable defences”. He referred to such measures as “achievable”. He said nobody wants to go through what they did last year ever again, and that the scheme should be rolled out at national level. “We have the opportunity to protect people’s houses, why don’t we do it?” he concluded.
Cllr Dolan received support from Fianna Fáil’s Aengus O’Rourke, who said rural Ireland remains “at the mercy” of the next flooding event. He said while there are houses that currently cannot get insurance due to their location on high-risk ground, a grant scheme could provide them with the “physical insurance” needed to protect their homes and offer them peace of mind going forward. He said the sums being discussed are “by no means earth-shattering”, and neither are the amount of houses in question.
Supporting the motion, Independent councillor Michael O’Brien told the chamber that the council has a role to play in safeguarding the homes in the locality at risk of flooding.
Director of services Barry Kehoe said the criteria of the OPW’s current Minor Works Programme means individual homes do not qualify. For such a fund to become a reality, he said this must change. He added that the council is very limited in the schemes it can personally undertake with CFRAM works only around the corner.
Mr Kehoe said the council will contact Minister with Responsibility for Flooding, Deputy Sean Canney, to arrange a meeting with a delegation from the council.