In a meeting with Minister Patrick O’Donovan, who has responsibility for the OPW, this week, IFA President Tim Cullinan said farmers want the OPW to manage the water levels on the Shannon by dropping the level from the end of the summer season, while ensuring that it doesn’t cause problems further downstream.
“We need the new Minister to take control of the situation. Farmers are sick of excuses for inaction,” he said.
“A number of key pinch points identified along the river need to be addressed. Silt has been building up on the bed of the Shannon over the years which has to be removed by dredging. These actions would help alleviate the flooding problem by lowering the water levels. It’s affecting farmers, who are suffering major losses, and it also causes disruption for businesses in the flooded areas,” he said.
IFA Connacht Regional Chairman Pat Murphy said in south county Galway, there is a huge flooding problem with water rising in the turloughs. A proper drainage system would alleviate some of the problems here.
There are a small number of farmers in the area whose farm yards and wintering facilities get flooded and the proposed drainage will not rectify this. This farmyard flooding causes major problems and stress for farmers. These farmers do not want to move their farmyards, but find themselves being forced to do so. IFA is calling on the Minister to provide relocation support for these farmers.
IFA and local farmers also want the OPW to construct overflow channels connecting turloughs to eventually get the excess water to the sea in Kinvara.
Tim Cullinan said Minister O’Donovan should establish an agency which would include local people to manage the overall Shannon project to rectify the problems and maintain it thereafter.
He said that the current Minister and indeed previous Ministers have accepted that European regulations have stifled the progress of flood defence and drainage work across the whole country. “This has to be challenged by the current Minister as the national pattern of flooding especially along the Shannon and South Galway will only get worse in the future if weather patterns continue to occur,” he said.
The IFA delegation included Clare County Chair Tom Lane, Limerick Chair Shay Galvin, North Tipperary Chair Imelda Walsh, Offaly Chair Richard Scally, Westmeath Chair Bernie McCarthy and Galway Chair Anne Mitchell.