Flood Protection Must be Introduced in Foynes and Ballysteen

Dail Motion on Flooding – Wednesday 19th February 2014

  Deputy Dan Neville: I welcome the opportunity to speak on the flooding difficulties experienced over recent months.  Initially I refer especially to the situation in County Limerick.  On 16 January we discussed that here.  The particular problem has manifested itself in several areas in County Limerick including in the basin of the Maigue and Deel rivers, which have been flooding along both basins.  The particular problem which has caused many difficulties is what happened along the Shannon Estuary.  In Foynes there was a very serious situation where the flood defence wall, built only nine years ago, was unable to protect Foynes in January when the flooding took place.  An old earthen bank which was removed some years ago would have done so.

Nobody – I include the chairman of the Shannon Foynes Port Company, CIE and the Office of Public Works, OPW, which I would see as the people and bodies responsible for the area – anticipated what happened.  It is important that these organisations, including Limerick County Council, get together to ensure the situation is responded to.  I commend the Shannon Foynes Port Company, which has already invested €60,000 in trying to protect the situation.  However there is concern that on 3 March high tides are again expected and people in Foynes are concerned that a similar occurrence would take place.

On the night in question, water came gushing through a breach in Foynes shortly before 7.30 p.m.  It flooded almost 40 bars, shops and homes turning the main street into a temporary river and even flooding the community centre and car park, which is somewhat higher than the Main Street.  The affected buildings were clustered in the centre of the town and serious damage was done.  There was risk to life and some elderly people had to be rescued.  A serious situation could have arisen regarding loss of life because of the flooding that took place.  Like other speakers, I pay tribute to the fire services, the Garda Síochána and the staff of Limerick County Council who responded on the night.  Those volunteers and the community who responded to the situation are to be commended and congratulated.

There is urgent need for remedial repairs to Foynes as quickly as possible.  I asked the Minister to activate this and allocate emergency funding to ensure that a similar situation does not arise.  Regarding Ballysteen, the River Shannon breached its banks in two places and a sizeable area of land was seriously flooded and was under water for a considerable period of time.  Last Wednesday there was a very serious storm, one of the worst in living memory, and flooding took place again in that area.  An investment between €20,000 and €30,000 would probably do the repairs to prevent future flooding.  It is not very expensive and should be examined in detail to see if it would work.  There was also serious flooding in Adare and other areas.  Historically there was very serious flooding in Adare but the River Maigue was drained some decades ago, which has corrected that.  However on this occasion flooding occurred again.  Something must be done about insurance.  I appreciate my time has expired.