The town of Bandon, County Cork came to a standstill on Monday night when up to 1,500 people marched through the town and called on the Dublin government to deliver immediately on the town’s flood relief scheme, one of dozens across Ireland which have been devastated by floods and the lack of flood defences.
Sone rural parts of the west were turned into islands and had to be evacuated after heavy rains last weekend as water rose in Counties Mayo, Galway, Sligo, Donegal, Leitrim, Roscommon, Clare, Limerick, Cork and Kerry.
Homes were also evacuated in Cork city, while flooding damaged businesses in Galway and in Dublin, where the Liffey have burst its banks.
Some home and business owners have been devastated by floods for the second time in six years, and insurance is no longer available in most previously flooded areas.
Earlier this week, with 20,000 acres of land already under water, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, was asked about his previous promises to deal with flooding.
“We are required to set out the areas where action has to be taken remedially to deal with flooding, and there are 300 such locations,” he said. “Clearly these can be quite complex, given the topography, the geography and the hydrological surveys that are necessary to be carried out.”
The people of Bandon, who have been waiting since 2009 for help, were not reassured. And even when state relief is offered, businesses find that it is too difficult to draw down, and the process takes way too long.
Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams said the government had failed to take the issue of flood risk and flood defences seriously, and that residents and businesses were now suffering as a result.
“This government promised in 2011, and again in 2012, that work would begin on a flood defence project in 2013,” he said.
But government ministers continue to make excuses, blaming “abnormal” conditions which have long ceased to be so. Last week, Enda Kenny told the COP21 conference in Paris, that “big and small” had to take action to address climate change. He promised Ireland would play its part, but there was a caveat – as long as it didn’t hamper the agriculture sector.
However, climate change is not only wrecking homes and livelihoods across Ireland, it is claiming lives. Well-known singer Ivan Vaughan is believed to have drowned when he became trapped in his car on a dipped part of a flooded road in County Monaghan.
And in County Wexford, a teenage girl remains seriously ill after she was rescued from the sea unconscious. She was hurt when four members of a Dublin-based scout group were hurled into the sea by a freak wave off Hook Head.