Figures released in the Dáil to Fianna Fáil Finance Spokesperson Michael McGrath TD show that the OPW’s budget for flood relief works in 2016 has been cut by 14%. It has also been confirmed that €13m in the budget for flood relief works in 2015 was never spent.
Deputy McGrath commented, “Listening to government Ministers in recent weeks, one could be forgiven for thinking that money was not an issue when it comes to building flood defences in communities across the country. In light of this, many people will be shocked to learn that the OPW’s budget for capital flood relief works in 2016 of €52.6m is actually 14% less than the 2015 budget of €61.3m.
“To add insult to injury, it also transpires that the OPW failed to spend €13m of its budget for flood relief works in 2015. The government has recently been going to great lengths to promise additional funding for future flood defences, but the reality is they are actually slashing the budget for flood relief works and have failed to invest millions of euro set aside for them in 2015.
“Proper investment in flood defences over the last five years could have saved many families and small businesses from devastating flood damage in recent weeks. Flood defences installed by the OPW meet very high standards and worked effectively when tested by recent storms.
“Minister Simon Harris has stated that the massive underspend on flood defences was caused primarily by unspecified delays in the planned commencement of construction of some capital projects. This is completely unacceptable. The government should have a pipeline of flood defence projects at various stages of planning and preparation at any given time, to ensure that the relevant budget is fully invested and the maximum amount of flood defence projects are completed every year.”