Skip to content
#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Councillors at last night's meeting of Dublin City Council discussing the recent flooding
Councillors at last night's meeting of Dublin City Council discussing the recent flooding
Image: Screengrab

Dublin local politicians clash with city council over reaction to flooding

Dublin City Council has released details on how it dealt with the floods on 24 October – but the councillors aren’t happy.
Nov 8th 2011, 1:03 PM 1,091 1

DUBLIN CITY COUNCILLORS have clashed with city managers over the reaction to last month’s flooding, which caused major property damage in parts of Dublin.

Councillors at last night’s monthly council meeting told of the devastating effects of the 24 October floods on their local areas – but said that the response and communication from Dublin City Council on the night had been  ”inadequate”. Many councillors described frustrated attempts to get through to the Council emergency number and confusion over how exactly the Council could help people affected by the sudden flooding on the night.

Tom Leahy, head of engineering for Dublin City Council presented an interim report on the flooding, saying that it was as a result of the kind of rain “that arrives once a century”.

Rebecca Moynihan, councillor for the south-west inner city, described how she had kept trying to ring the DCC emergency number but had “great difficulty” getting through. She was also told that there were no sandbags available for the area – but later found out that this was untrue. Moynihan characterised the reaction of the Council as “inadequate”.

Councillor Críona Ni Dhalaigh (SF) described how parts of her area had been flooded several times since the 1980s and asked, “What lessons are we learning every time this happens?”

Labour councillor Emer Costello questioned why the Dublin City Council twitter account hadn’t been used for updates on the night, noting that the only relevant tweet from the account that evening had been to announce to the major emergency plan for Dublin had been implemented.  Several councillors, including Fianna Fáil’s Mary Fitzpatrick, proposed more effective alert systems using mobile phones and social media to inform residents of major developments.

Independent Ciaran Perry asked why the Council always had to react to events such as flooding or last winter’s snow instead of being pro-active in preparing for extraordinary weather events.

Leahy said that the city had mobilised resources to prepare for the rain following a flood warning from Met Eireann on the evening of 23 October, but  pointed out that the warning from Met Eireann was for significantly less rain than actually fell. Over 95 mm of rain fell in the city centre in 24 hours – far more than the Met Eireann forecast of 40 – 70 mm, which would be an average rainfall over 2 days at this time of year, according to the report.

At 4pm on Monday 24 October, the Council decided to reinforce the normal emergency on-call crew – made up of just 7 people – to include additional staff to deal with any potential flooding incidents. Additionally, several thousand sandbags were made available from Cabra, Clontarf and Sandymount. The major emergency action plan for the city was activated at 8.15pm when the extent of the flooding became clear.

The emergency services received 774 calls as a result of the floods between 2pm and midnight on 24 October. Calls peaked at 8pm with 169 calls that hour. In comparison there were just 2 calls between 2pm and 3pm.  The report also states that it was not possible to respond to all requests for assistance, citing minor house flooding as a typical example, but that priority was given to rescuing people from cars or houses trapped by the floodwaters.

Leahy pointed out that Ireland doesn’t have a national flood warning agency, with responsibility instead divided between several agencies including the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Met Eireann.

Leahy said that cuts have resulted in 810 jobs  lost at the council since 2009 and despite efforts to minimise the effect on frontline services, some cutbacks were inevitable.

Separately, the proposed flood defences at Clontarf seafront were described as ‘an act of national sabotage’  by one councillor speaking at the same meeting.

Independent councillor Nial Ring said the barrier would be akin to the building of the Wood Quay offices on top of Viking remains or the construction of the ESB building on Fitzwilliam Street, one of Dublin’s few Georgian areas, in terms of the damage it would do.

A number of councillors expressed concern over the plans to build a wall along three kilometres of the promenade as a permanent defence against flooding. Clontarf has been badly hit by four major flooding incidents in recent years following heavy rain.  As a result Dublin City Council has spent between €70,000 and €100,000 mobilising temporary defences several times since 2002.  There have been threats from some insurance companies to withdraw flood cover for homes and businesses in the area if a permanent defence plan is not implemented.

Lord Mayor Andrew Montague noted that Clontarf does need flood defences but that many residents of the area had been in touch with him and with many of the city councillors to express their concerns over the plans and the lack of consultation with people in the area.

City Manager John Tierney apologised for the lack of consultation: “More should have been done, and I apologise for that”.

Send a tip to the author

Christine Bohan


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a comment

    cancel reply
    Back to top