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Family still in limbo after flood destroyed bridge linking their home to main road

The bridge is not a council bridge, but the local authority is liaising with the OPW on options.

Image: Micheál Macgioleasbuig

A DONEGAL FAMILY have said they are still ‘in limbo’ two months after flooding caused severe damage to a bridge that links their home to the main road.

The family says a recent medical emergency has highlighted the need to restore vehicular access via the bridge.

Heavy rain in late August led to flooding of the Clady river in Gweedore. The bridge, which connects three homes to the main road, suffered severe damage, cutting those homes off for a period of time. 

Although the bridge is not a council bridge, the local authority installed a temporary footbridge to restore access, but residents of the homes – who are all part of the same family – have not been able to get vehicles in or out over the path.

Source: Micheal Macgiollaeasbuig

Last night an ambulance crew had to wheel the eldest resident, a man in his 70s, almost 200 metres to the emergency vehicle because they could not drive it over the bridge and directly to his home.

“He’s okay, but he had to go get checked out,” he son Seán Ó Duibhir told TheJournal.ie.

Luckily we had other family and friends to give the two ambulance crew a hand and give them a bit of lighting. It’s not a massive walk, but it’s still not the most comfortable on a stretcher and in a major emergency what happened last night probably wouldn’t be good enough.

He said the family has been told very little about when – or even if – the bridge will be fully repaired. 

“Everyone has been coming and going with it, saying unfortunately there’s no funding. When it first happened we thought someone would do something but then it slowly fizzled out. No one has come back with a full on ‘no’ but it seems it is just being forgotten about,” he said.

Donegal County Council told TheJournal.ie that its staff provided a temporary footbridge to span the section damaged in the floor after the flooding.

“Public representatives in the area have been liaising with the family, with the council and with the Office of Public Works to assess the scale of damage to the structure and to follow-up on options to restore vehicular access,” they added.

Ó Duibhir said the council told him the cost of repairing the bridge could reach €800,000. 

“It’s absolutely ridiculous, we’ve not a hope of ever being able to cover that ourselves.”

He said staff from the OPW have been to the site a number of times in the past to assess the bridge as flooding has been a problem for a number of years.

“The bridge has been flooding for seven or eight years, it used to wash the road away and I’d fix away at it. If they had cleaned the river of the debris or widened the river, it’s possible we wouldn’t have this problem.

“Our neighbours had raised it with them previously , they live on the other side of the bridge and one time the water got very high and nearly went into the houses.”

Local councillor Micheál Macgiollaeasbuig said he believes the delay in repairing the bridge is “a class issue”. 

“A number of weeks ago floods affected businesses and some residential homes in Donegal town and the government acted immediately and rightly so, but yet have stayed silent on the damage caused by floods at this bridge in Gaoth Dobhair,” he said.

“This is totally immoral and unacceptable and I ask the government to step in immediately and do the right thing by this man, his family and neighbours.”

Donegal County Council said its discussions with the OPW in relation to the bridge are “ongoing”.

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