TAOISEACH ENDA KENNY has defended the government’s response to the recent flooding, and said that assessments will be carried out into installing new defences.
Speaking today during Leaders’ Questions, the Taoiseach put an estimate on the cost of installing 10 kilometres of new flood defences in Cork at between €50 and €100 million, and that €15 million in humanitarian funds is due to be made available, pending final assessment.
“This is an issue we’re going to have to come back to an number of occasions”, he said.
He added that Minister for Environment Phil Hogan intends to visit a number of the affected areas, as well Junior Minister Brian Hayes.
However, opposition leaders criticised the government’s response, and emphasised the need for implementing more flood defences.
Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams described the response as ‘King Canute’ gesture, referencing the 11th century Danish king who believed he could command the tide to recede.
“Many people are angry”, he said, “that measures that might have been put in place beforehand to offset the worst of impact of the flooding were not taken.”
Kenny noted that emergency response committees met in advance of the flooding in Cork, taking measures such as handing out sandbags to households vulnerable to flooding, closing roads, putting evacuation plans in place, and placing emergency and military services on standby.
He said the government’s immediate concern is for residents displaced by flooded homes.
Fianna Fáil’s Michael Martin describe the response as “not urgent enough”, and predicted that flooding will get worse in future due to climate change.
The Taoiseach also criticised previous ‘penny wise, pound foolish, rushes to judgement’ to grant planning permission on flood plains.
“I’ll tell you this much, there’ll be no more planning permission for flood plains,” he said.
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