Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture and TD for Roscommon-Galway, Claire Kerrane, has renewed calls on the Government to proceed with legislation to establish a much-needed River Shannon Management Agency.
This call follows Minister Hackett’s suggestion yesterday that it is ‘not sustainable’ to continue compensating farmers whose land had been affected by flooding and instead the focus should be on mitigating flooding.
Teachta Kerrane and party colleagues introduced the River Shannon Management Agency Bill in 2020, to create a single authority to co-ordinate flood risk and management along the River Shannon.
The legislation was introduced in response to sustained flooding experienced in areas along the River Shannon, which has had a significant impact on homes and agricultural land in these areas.
Speaking today, Teachta Kerrane said:
“While the Minister is absolutely correct that there should be a focus on mitigating flooding, the reality is that her Government have failed to implement proposals to do just that for areas along the River Shannon.
“Myself and my party colleagues introduced key legislation which would see the establishment of an agency that is responsible for co-ordinating flood risk management along the Shannon.
“Yet, this legislation was blocked by her Government when it last came forward in November 2020 because the Government wanted 9 months to do their own – that was over 3 years ago.
“Those living and farming along the River Shannon experience annual flooding, and not just confined to Winter.
“Farmers who are part of the ‘Save Our Shannon Organisation’ have very clearly outlined the reality of the summer flooding last year in the Shannon Callows and the terrible impact it had on their ability to graze land and save hay and silage.
“While the introduction of a Shannon Callows Flood Scheme for 2023 was very much welcomed, even that has not been without issue and I have raised with Minister McConalogue the need to get that short-term support right for those affected farmers.
“This Scheme needs to be urgently looked at. In one case I have a Farmer who was not contacted to apply for the Scheme, while his neighbour, the other side of the ditch, was.
“However, the bigger picture is establishing a single Agency to manage and take responsibility for the River. Doing so will protect farmers from this level of flooding and also allow them the freedom to farm and continue to the next generation.
“Given the Minister’s comments on addressing longer-term flood mitigation I take it she and the Government are willing to look at proposals, like the Shannon River Management Agency Bill, to do that. Our legislation is sitting there.
“The Government must work collaboratively to get this legislation made law and an Authority established. There is no excuse for any further delay.”