Five years of Government inaction on Limerick City flood defences condemned

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St Mary's Park under water after the River Shannon burst its banks in 2014. Photo: Sean Curtin.
St Mary's Park under water after the River Shannon burst its banks in 2014. Photo: Sean Curtin.

THE Government has been condemned over its failure to tackle the cause of the extensive flooding that wreaked havoc in parts of Limerick five years ago.

The criticism was led by Sinn Féin councillor John Costelloe who said that the lack of Government action was “inexplicable, totally unacceptable and treated people with disdain and contempt.

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“We are now five years after the massive flood that destroyed parts of St Mary’s Park, Kings Island, Corbally, and yet we see very little or no action on the flood defences needed to ensure our city, its communities, and most importantly, our people, are protected. It is simply not good enough,” he told the Limerick Post.

The City North representative met Minister Kevin Boxer Moran over a year ago when he impressed on him the urgency of this work.

“The flooding in 2014 affected thousands of people and damaged hundreds of homes in the King’s Island area. Recently tides in Limerick have been very high, with stormy winds and heavy rainfall. People, many of them elderly, are living fear that they will be flooded again and this is totally unacceptable.

“In 2014 the then Minister in charge of dealing with flooding, Brian Hayes, guaranteed us that we would have all the funding we needed to make sure that the flooding like we saw in King’s Island wouldn’t happen again.

“Limerick never saw Brian Hayes or hardly any funding after that, he claimed.”

Cllr Costelloe went on to describe the lack of movement on these critically needed flood defences as “totally unacceptable”.

“Families were driven from their homes in 2014 by rising floodwaters; others only remained through the sterling work of the emergency services and the decency of neighbours. They fear this will happen again.

“There has to be a serious look at how we approach flooding and flood prevention in this country. The Government must stop with spin and announcements and deliver the flood defences which are so desperately needed,” Cllr Costelloe concluded.

The OPW told the Limerick Post this week that they gave a commitment to funding of both temporary and permanent flood defences following the severe flooding in February 2014, as part of the Limerick Regeneration Project.

“It was agreed that these works were to be advanced by the local authority as part of that project. Funding was provided for the construction of sheet piling behind an embankment as a temporary measure, with a view to the more permanent solution. This work was completed in 2014.

“€1.3 million for advance works on Verdant Place, King’s Island, was also approved for the repointing of the existing stonewall and construction of reinforced concrete wall to the rear.  This was completed in 2017,” the OPW statement continued.

“Limerick City and County Council (LCCC) was requested to commence the procurement of an engineering design consultant to develop a more permanent flood defence solution, together with an Environmental Impact Assessment and a Cost Benefit Analysis.

“Approval was given to the local authority in August 2015 to proceed with the development of a flood relief scheme, which will form part of the overall solution for the City.

“Engineering Consultants were appointed in July 2015 and a steering group comprising members of Limerick City and County Council and the OPW, meets every six weeks to oversee progress on the project.

“It is estimated that the scheme will cost in the region of €25 million and will protect approximately 450 residential and 23 commercial properties. While some delays have been encountered, a viable scheme proposal in scheduled to go to An Bord Pleanála later this year,” the statement concluded.