Cathaoirleach open to special meeting on flooding

Relevant agencies need to be present to make it worthwhile

The Cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, Cllr Michael Holmes has said this week that he is open to the idea of the council having a special meeting to discuss the flooding problems in the county. However he said that a representative from a number of Government agencies would need to be present so questions could be answered.

Speaking to the Mayo Advertiser this week, Cllr Holmes said: "There is some movement towards it, I have been contacted by a number of councillors on it. Some of them looking for a special meeting and others talking about suspending standing orders at the next meeting on January 18. Some of the councillors are looking to suspend standing orders for an hour or an hour and half to debate it, I'll go with what the councillors want to do."

Cllr Holmes went on to say: "We'd really want to get someone in from the National Parks and Wildlife and the Office of Public Works. My problem with all of this is that it's not all about money, it's about us being allowed to do it. That's the big issue. You can have all the money in the world, but if you're not allowed to do the work you need to, it doesn't matter."

Speaking about his own experiences and knowledge of the situation Cllr Holmes said: "If you go out to any of the little rivers and drains even during the summer they are half full of water because the water can't get out, you see the small bit of rain comes and you have a flood, where if they were cut and cleaned like they used to be years ago, it would make a difference. People are not allowed to do it now and farmers who used to clean drains are not allowed to clean them. I have been cleaning drains in my own business for farmers and have been stopped by the National Parks and Wildlife, I've first hand knowledge of it."

Sinn Féin councillor Rose Conway Walsh echoed Cllr Holmes' sentiments that the meeting needed an attendance from officials from relevant agencies for it to be of any use. “There is absolutely no point in 30 councillors standing up asking questions and saying how bad things are and were, without having the decision makers in these agencies there to provide answers and timelines for action," she said. "In November and December I submitted motions to both the main county council meeting and the West Mayo Municipal meeting to request representatives from OPW, Inland Fisheries, National Parks and Wildlife to discuss planned actions to address problems in Mayo. We need them all in the room at the same time and we need some accountability and urgency to protect people from flooding and coastal erosion.

“For Mayo County Council's part staff losses in outdoor staff must be replaced and drainage in places where roads flooded needs to be prioritised immediately. The €100 million robbed from the roads budget allocated to Mayo County Council from the Department of Transport for local and regional roads since 2007 has to be given back this year. This disastrous political decision which has led to Mayo having the worst roads in the country has to be reversed in the first quarter of this year.”


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