Fianna Fáil TD for Galway East Colm Keaveney has today written to the Taoiseach requesting an urgent recall of the Dáil to debate measures necessary to address the national flooding crisis.
Deputy Keaveney said, “As a representative of one of the worst hit constituencies in the present flooding crisis, I have been frankly appalled at the lack of urgency in the Governments response. The Taoiseach has been invisible in recent days despite numerous warnings issued by Met Éireann about the threat of flooding.
“The UK has been hit by similar flooding and Prime Minister Cameron, to his credit, has been highly visible in affected areas. At the very least, people dealing with the aftermath of flooding in York and other areas can feel that their Government and Prime Minister have noticed their plight. His presence on the ground is providing reassurance to communities.
“With the Dáil heading into its final few weeks before the General Election, time is now limited to agree and implement necessary legislation and funding to deal with the immediate consequences of the flooding and to prepare for future storms. Any failure to agree on all necessary measures before the dissolution of this Dáil could result in a delay of two or three months in putting any legislation in place. This will narrow the window of opportunity to begin the installation of flood defences where needed in preparation for the Winter of 2016.
“Any such measures will require significant additional funding to be voted through by the Dáil. I also believe that legislation will be needed to provide for an accelerated planning procedure to be put in place for such flood defences. These measures will need to be debated, agreed and legislated for prior to the dissolution of the Dáil.
“In the shorter term, the people of south Galway, in towns such as Gort, Portumna and Craughwell, and in neighboring counties such as south Roscommon and Tipperary as well as further afield in Cork will require significant financial aid to assist them in coping with the consequences of flood damage. The current schemes put in place by the Government are insufficient in terms of the funding available and in terms of their scope. Too many people currently affected by flooding are excluded from these schemes.
“The Government parties also need to give a full account of what measures they have taken in office to tackle flooding. A number of deadlines under the EU Floods Directive have passed under this government. What, if any of them have been met? There is little evidence on the ground that the Government parties have done anything to honour this directive and as such they have failed communities throughout the country.
“I sincerely hope that the Taoiseach responds positively to my request. It is essential that cross-party agreement is secured on whatever measures are put in place, so that an agreed and long-term plan can be presented to communities and re-assure them that help is coming.”