Hogan to visit flood-hit areas

Environment Minister Phil Hogan is to visit areas around the country damaged by flooding later this week amid criticism of the Government’s slow response to the crisis.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that Minister Hogan, along with the junior minister responsible for public works, Brian Hayes, will present a detailed report on the situation to the cabinet next Tuesday, after which it will be debated in the Dáil.

Mr Kenny said that up to 300 locations around the country are at risk of flooding, and admitted that the current level of capital funding to protect them is not adequate.

He said €50m-€100m will be required to build 10km of flood barriers in Cork, and given that other areas such as Galway and Wexford are at risk “it is going to demand a national challenge in the long term”.

He said: “This is a very complex engineering challenge in Cork alone. It is something that is not the remit of politicians to decide - on the basis of engineering challenges.”

“There is an acceptance now that climate change is having an impact on our own country at unprecedented levels.”

The Taoiseach was responding to Cork South Central TD and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin, who said there is a “lack of urgency and priority to this issue”.

Deputy Martin demanded to know which Minister had direct responsibility for the crisis, and asked if Mr Hogan had decided to visit any areas for himself to see “first hand” the damage.

The flooding crisis dominated leaders question time in the Dáil and became the subject of a political spat, when the Taoiseach laid the blame previous policies.

“The extent of planning permission on flood plains is coming back to haunt people,” he said.

After being heckled by government backbenchers, Mr Martin said that: “Cork was founded on a marsh by St Finbarr, not by Fianna Fáil.”

Earlier today, Cork City Council's director of service said that plans are underway to improve flood defences in the city - but it may take several years.

By Mary Regan, Deputy Political Editor, Irish Examiner

KEYWORDS: Flood, Cork flood
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