Fianna Fáil TD for Donegal Charlie McConalogue has hit out at the Minister for the Office of Public Works Simon Harris, for refusing to fast-track a number of vital reports into flooding in the Letterkenny and Ramelton areas.
It has been revealed in correspondence to Deputy McConalogue that the OPW does not plan to publish its findings and recommendations on flooding in the Ramelton and Letterkenny areas until the second half of 2016.
The Donegal TD said, “The reports and studies that the OPW have commissioned will essentially advise what can be done to prevent flooding in these areas in the future. However the timelines outlined by the Minister are completely unacceptable and are essentially pushing any works even further down the road, until after the General Election. This leaves the communities of Letterkenny and Ramelton at risk of flooding this winter and next without any contingency plan in place.
“The flooding of the past few years remains fresh in the memories of people whose homes and businesses were damaged by the high water. Letterkenny General Hospital was plunged into complete disarray on two separate occasions in 2013 and 2014 as heavy rainfall flooded the Emergency Department, forcing it to close. Meanwhile, in Ramelton, the local community centre was all but destroyed, and a number of homes were badly damaged by the floods.
“The threat of flooding remains all too real for these communities and will not be lessened until some preventative works are completed. These fears are not unfounded given the fact that this flooding has been a characteristic of the past two years. However, Minister Harris’s refusal to fast-track the relief works will effectively condemn these communities to more flooding over the next number of years. Donegal County Council has essentially been left at a standstill, unable to proceed with any works until the recommendations of the OPW reports are published.
“It is simply unacceptable that the Minister is aiming for a target date some time in mid-late 2016. Urgent action is required to ensure that proper flood defences are put in place to protect against future flooding. This work cannot begin until the council receives these recommendations. It is essential that these works are carried out without delay so that these communities can be protected from future floods”.