ICMSA calls out ‘decades of river mismanagement’

The current flooding of houses, farmyards and farmland “should come as no surprise to anyone”, and is as a result of “decades of river mismanagement”.

That’s the claim from the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA), which has stressed the “mental and financial hardship” for families as a result of the floods.

“Too many bodies have authority over rivers, but nobody wants to take responsibility and deal with the problems,” said Pat McCormack, the association’s president.

The pace of dealing with these problems is simply too slow and it would appear that the needs of the people affected is well down the priority list of policymakers at national and EU level.

“It is absolutely essential that all the resources of the state are made available to people in the impacted areas to protect their homes and farmyards in particular and, secondly, that a financial aid package is made available to people who have suffered financial losses as a result of the flooding,” McCormack added.

He also called for farm inspections to be suspended in these areas, saying “farmers are under enough pressure”.

National authority

McCormack also reiterated his call for the formation of a ‘National Waterways Authority’, whose sole role would be the management of rivers, with a particular focus on flood prevention.

“We would eliminate the current position of different agencies having different management roles over rivers and ordinary families being caught in the cross fire,” the ICMSA president argued.

People should be under no illusions that the events of the past week will be repeated again on a regular basis unless proper management of our river system from a flooding perspective is prioritised.

“Some politicians have rejected the concept of a single agency and I would challenge them to come up with a better system to resolve the issues as successive governments have completely failed,” he added.

McCormack continued: “It is quite clear…that state agencies’ management and maintenance of river systems has been focused on maintaining marine and other wildlife along the river systems, and this has been prioritised over the needs of people living in the river floodplains.

It is quite clear that a national dredging programme of Irish rivers is required as a matter of priority and it is probably the 1960s since this was done in the past. Irish rivers are getting clogged up due to a total lack of management and maintenance over decades and we now need to address this problem.

“People in these flood-risk areas are fed up listening to empty political promises during flood events with no follow up after the event. Short term supports and resources are needed immediately with a commitment to commence a dredging programme to deal with the issue once and for all,” he concluded.