Statement by Dan Neville TD – Dail Eireann – 16th January 2014
Deputy Dan Neville: I welcome the opportunity to contribute to the debate. I wish to deal with the area in County Limerick along the Shannon Estuary – although there was also flooding at the basin of the Maigue and Deel Rivers – in my limited time I will raise Foynes and Ballysteen-Askeaton where there were breaches. There is great concern that further high tides on 1 February will cause further damage if remedial repairs are not done quickly. The flood defence wall built only nine years ago was unable to protect homes in Foynes. Many felt the old earthen bank, which was there, would have done so. Nobody, including the chairman of Shannon Foynes Port Company, CIE or the Office of Public Works, wants to take responsibility for what has happened. It is important these organisations get together to ensure the situation is urgently responded to.
On the night in question, water came gushing through a breach in Foynes shortly before 7.30 p.m. flooding almost 40 bars, shops and homes, turning the main street into a temporary river and flooding the community centre and car park. The affected buildings were clustered in the centre of the town. Serious damage was done and there was a serious risk to the lives of some elderly people. I pay tribute to the Garda, the fire service, the HSE and the staff of Limerick County Council who responded on the night in question. There is urgent need for remedial repairs in Foynes prior to the February high tides. I ask the minister present to activate this and allocate emergency funding.
In regard to Ballysteen, the River Shannon breached its banks in two places and a sizable area of agricultural land was seriously flooded and is under water. If not repaired in a short period of time it will result in two breaches becoming one large breach with the final outcome being the whole area becoming a permanent flood plain. It is important some remedial work is done to prevent further damage in the Ballysteen-Askeaton area.