21 May 2022

Kilkenny TD queries OPW on follow-ups to flood relief work and cleaning of local weirs

Deputy John McGuinness hears local authorities are not precluded from re-applying for funding


File picture: The River Nore in Kilkenny City during a high water event

Local TD John McGuinness has asked if local authorities can apply for follow-up funding for to supplement flood relief schemes that have been carried out.

The Kilkenny TD also sought clarity on who is responsible for the cleaning of certain weirs on rivers in Kilkenny City. Deputy McGuinness was speaking at the Select Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, and Taoiseach, of which he is chairman.

"As is sometimes the case with these schemes, when they are finished and done and a number of years have passed, parts of the scheme either weaken or there is another issue, for instance, water comes down even further. Are local authorities precluded from re-applying?" asked Deputy McGuinness.

Responding, Minister of State with responsibility for the OPW Patrick O' Donovan said they were not: "This is an issue that will require a body of work to make sure that, in doing a section of work in Kilkenny, for example, it is ensured there is ongoing maintenance, supervision and a service level agreement or a memorandum of understanding in order that what the money was spent on at the start is properly maintained and overseen and the damage and maintenance are looked after," he said.

Deputy McGuinness asked if that meant it could be an addition to a completed scheme, and Minister replied yes. "It is open to local authorities to apply for a second scheme if it is deemed necessary," he said.

Deputy McGuinness referred to the completed scheme in Kilkenny City, which he praised the OPW for and said he had 'given the agency enough trouble on it' when the matter was before the Public Accounts Committee. He said he often looked back on the video of that project being completed.

"It is a must-watch video for anyone in the engineering world or anyone who wants to see how the project worked out," the Fianna Fail TD said.

"There have been small issues afterwards and the Minister of State mentioned some of them earlier. I wrote recently to the Minister of State about a mill stream just off the scheme at Green's Bridge. I understood that, normally, in the past, the OPW cleared it. Then there are the weirs. Who is responsible for the cleaning of weirs?"

Responding, Minister O' Donovan said that unless it is part of the Arterial Drainage Act and it is in the Schedule to that Act, it would be the local authority.

"If it is part of the Act and of the scheme, it is the OPW," he said. "Kilkenny County Council is probably responsible for it."

Deputy McGuinness said that it seemed to be a grey area, and he had been initially sent to the OPW and then by the OPW to the council. He said the weirs are part of the scheme the OPW conducted. Minister O' Donovan said it may be a riparian landowner, and he would get the details on it for him.

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