Watch Clonlara resident's angry encounter with Minister Coveney

By David Raleigh

Minister Simon Coveney faced criticism from angry residents Springfield in Clonlara Co Clare when he visited the flood-hit area today.

He is the first Government Minister to visit the area since the onset of the flood almost a month ago.

Local Geraldine Mason berates the Minister, saying: "My house was the first house to go on the 12th of December."

She added: "It's my home. I am homeless - I have no home at the moment," before stating: "It's not fair and nobody cares.

"It’s been going on for years, and ye reckon it won't be sorted until next year again.

"I want to stay in my home, live in my home, I do not want to leave it. And I want something done."

Other homeowners who have borne the brunt of the floodwaters pleaded with Minister Coveney today "not to forget" them.

Mothers wept and fathers stood stone-faced as they told their harrowing stories to the Cork TD.

Standing with the Minister in the river that surrounds her home, Lisa Griffin practically begged the Minister to save the community, which is situated on the Lower River Shannon downstream from Athlone.

When the ESB-operated Parteen Weir reaches capacity, the company releases excess volumes of water, which in turn results in Springfield and the wider Clonlara area been flooded.

"If you are going to protect Athlone you are going to wash us away," a desperate Ms Griffin told Minister Coveney.

"We don't want you to forget Springfield," she reiterated again and again.

"We are badly affected. You are going to see it when you go down that road and (the water) is above your waist," she said.

"We don't want to be forgotten about, and we don't want you to start up the country, solving their problems, because it's going to get worse for us down here."

Ms Griffin and her partner Barry purchased their home last year from her father.

Addressing the Minister with tears welling in his eyes, Ms Griffin's father Greg said: "I'm after lumbering her with a house that is worthless. I feel lousy over it."

"I moved house. I'm even (thinking about) selling my house now again to buy this house again back off of them, and my wife feels the same."

Minister Coveney told them the Government "has an onus" to help them.

"I can assure you you won't be forgotten about here," he promised.

Father of one, Philip Quinlivan, pleaded for life jackets, to keep him safe while he spends night after night trying to protect his parents house which is surrounded by six feet deep floodwaters.

Geraldine Quinlivan, Pat Breen TD and Simon Coveney TD. Pic: Arthur Ellis Photography

"Our lives are in danger," he said.

"One of the guys from the civil defence, who had a sealed neck wet suit on, was walking past my uncle's house - and the next thing all I could see was his hat," Mr Quinlivan revealed.

"He actually slipped into the ditch. He was lucky that he had a sealed wet suit, because if he was wearing the one that I am - which fills up if water gets in - he was a goner."

Mr Quinlivan's mother Geraldine, who was evacuated from the area last week when her health took a turn for the worse, broke down as she addressed Minister Coveney.

"We are at breaking point here now," she said.

Mother of four, Liz Hogan explained how her family were evacuated on December 9th, were split between different relatives over Christmas and the New Year, and who are still not able to access their swamped home.

She told the Minister: "It's not fair. Every year we have it. We can never enjoy Christmas, we don't know whether we are going to be in our house."


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