Long and short term Government failures exacerbating flooding – Stanley
Sinn Féin TD and Environment Spokesperson Brian Stanley TD has criticised the Government for its long and short term planning failures in relation to flood defence, saying that a great deal of damage could have been prevented had the Government not sought to indiscriminately slash public budgets.
Deputy Stanley said that outdoor staff cuts in local authorities and a failure to implement a single authority to deal with the River Shannon were having devastating effects on the homes and livelihoods of thousands of citizens. He also asked would the Government finally declare an Emergency and appeal to the EU for assistance from the Solidarity Fund.
The Laois-Offaly TD said:
“In some local authorities, the number of outdoor staff has been slashed by 30%. This has naturally had a serious debilitating effect on the capacity of councils to affect repairs and flood prevention measures, this includes basic maintenance work like clearing culverts. This is no criticism of the frontline staff who are at the pin of their collar these past few weeks, saving homes and farms. The fault of this lack of funding lies squarely at the feet of Government. Short-sighted austerity has come back to haunt us once more.
“A huge amount of flooding has occurred in the Shannon region. This is exacerbated by the lack of a single authority responsible for management of the River Shannon. During one Leaders’ Questions before Christmas, Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams asked the Taoiseach why no single agency had ultimate responsibility for management of the Shannon. An Taoiseach gave nothing but his usual bluster, demonstrating a lack of leadership that he has repeated during this crisis.
“It is beyond time for this Government to declare an Emergency and ask for assistance from the EU Solidarity Fund. The paltry Humanitarian Assistance funds and schemes are not fit to deal with the extent of the crisis. As the weeks pass, more towns and villages are succumbing to flooding.
“This Government cannot be held responsible for the weather, but their failure to prepare flood defences in a world where climate change is an accepted reality is both reckless and irresponsible.”