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“We have to do some serious thinking about long-term flood defences” — Howlin

Ministers are discussing measures aimed at helping those affected by the weekend flooding at a Cabinet meeting this morning.

Brendan Howlin on his way in to today's meeting
Brendan Howlin on his way in to today's meeting
Image: Photocall Ireland

Updated at midday

PUBLIC EXPENDITURE MINISTER Brendan Howlin has said that the Government will need to look again at its long-term strategy on how the country deals with flooding.

The Wexford TD was speaking on his way in to a Cabinet meeting today, where ministers were due to discuss possible measures to help those affected by severe floods over the weekend.

“When calm is restored I think we have to do some serious thinking about long-term flood defences because clearly climate change is a reality,” the minister told reporters.

“A lot of people who live in coastal areas, like I do myself, we’ll have to think long and hard about ensuring that this is not an annual event that simply has to be endured.”

Howlin said the first priority would be to provide humanitarian relief to those worst hit in the weekend flooding.

€10 million in Government funding has been set aside  for immediate humanitarian aid, but speaking this morning junior finance minister Brian Hayes said it was unlikely that would be enough to address the problem.

imageLocals ferry people in and out of Saint Mary’s Park in Limerick by boat as emergency services try and pump water out of the area [Image: Sean Curtin]

Hayes and Finance Minster Michael Noonan visited flood-hit areas in Limerick yesterday to assess the damage.

And speaking to RTÉ radio today, Hayes said local authorities in areas affected by storms in recent weeks had been given a deadline of today to apply for additional funds.

He said that Environment Minister Phil Hogan would bring a memo to Cabinet at next week’s meeting on how much was needed.

Hayes said a number of Government departments were involved in the process and that it was “inevitable” more money would have to be found

Joined up thinking

Business group Chambers Ireland have said a “joined up approach” is needed on flood prevention, and called for a plan to be put in place to avoid the same problem happening year-after-year.

“While businesses have been making progress towards recovery, all of this good work can be wiped out instantly due to flooding and those businesses in affected areas need urgent access to aid to combat closures and flood damage,” CEO of the group Ian Talbot said.

“The worrying thing about the current level of damage is that much of it may well have been avoided had proper flood prevention plans been put in place.

“While surveys and planning have been ongoing for a number of years, now is the time to focus on execution of these plans.

“There must be a joined up effort from the OPW, wider central government and local authorities to build resilience and ensure that this level of chaos is avoided in the future.”

Another storm system is due to hit later today — Cork City Council is on high alert amid fears there could be more flooding at high tide this evening.

First posted at 10.13am

Read: Taoiseach: Independent report into baby deaths would only happen after HSE inquiry

Read: More flood warnings as Atlantic storm makes its way to Irish shores

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