Kilkenny has to ask - How serious are government about helping those in rural Ireland to stay there?

Floods show up funding disgrace

Sean Keane

Reporter:

Sean Keane

Email:

sean.keane@kilkennypeople.ie

Impassable

Last week's flooding in Inistioge

The floods in Callan, Freshford, Thomastown, Inistioge and Graignamanagh beg a simple question.
How serious are we about protecting a way of life, fast disappearing?
How committed is this government and County Council and various government departments to giving people in rural Ireland fighting chance when it comes to flood protection?
For nearly 30 years, I have watched floods cause devastation in various towns and villages around Kilkenny and still, no serious measures have been put in place to counteract the flooding.
There is one exception, the largest centre of population in the South-East outside of Waterford, Kilkenny City has had its flooding, for the most part, sorted.
The River Nore flood relief scheme has been a huge success. Once again last week, it saved residents of John’s Quay, Greensbridge Street and other areas in the city centre from flooding.
That scheme was supposed to cost €24 million and ended up costing over €50 million and was put in place by current EU Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan.
In hindsight, it was money well spent and has paid for itself already.
Which brings me to my main point: If we do not seek immediate action on behalf of those living in the flooded areas in Thomastown, Inistioge, Graignamanagh, Freshford, Piltown and elsewhere we will force them to give up their homes and move elsewhere, thereby increasing population movement from the country into larger urban settlements.
So we need leadership. We need Minister John Paul Phelan to tackle this issue and make sure that the plans by the Office of Public Works (OPW) are fast-tracked and that money is drawn down as soon as possible to help individual property owners in Thomastown and Graignamanagh to carry out their work themselves.
And as for Freshford, it’s a disgrace that the River Nuenna can regularly burst its banks with no protection in place for the residents of Bridge Street and the Johnstown Road.