Hundreds of farmers are today (Tues) protesting outside the Civic Offices in Athlone to coincide with the OPW public consultation on the Shannon CFRAMS Flood Management Plan.
Leading the protest, IFA President Joe Healy said farmers are very angry that no work has yet proceeded to avoid the recurrence of the severe floods of last winter. He said, “The winter floods had a devastating impact on the livelihoods of thousands of farmers and on rural dwellers who remain fearful that the situation will be repeated because no action has been taken action to prevent it. The onus is on the Government to act. Promises are wearing very thin with the thousands of people living and farming adjacent to the Shannon and surrounding areas, including turloughs”.
The IFA President called on the Government to set out an immediate plan of action, including timelines, for works that will take place and will have an impact on future flood events.
Joe Healy said the recently published CFRAMS report is very disappointing from a number of perspectives. “Firstly, the report mainly looks at the protection of towns and villages, ignoring rural areas and farmland. Secondly, where works are proposed, the environmental good is overriding the public good. This is not acceptable. The extreme hardship farmers and rural householders experienced last winter cannot be allowed to be repeated because of inaction.”
The IFA President said that the draft CFRAMS will be discussed in each County Council area. “It is important that all councillors in the relevant areas reflect the views of the public to allow the necessary changes to be made before a final document is agreed later this year.”
At the protest, IFA Flood Project Team Chairman Padraic Joyce also highlighted the ongoing problems in the west of Ireland where water levels on turloughs have not sufficiently receded. He said turloughs must be part of a flood management strategy and he called for the necessary expertise to be employed in these areas to find a solution to the problem. Works must be done on turloughs before the onset of winter in areas such as Lough Fuinnseogh in Roscommon and other areas.
Those in attendance at today’s protest came mainly from Longford, Leitrim, Roscommon, Offaly, Westmeath, Galway and Clare.