The River Shannon is close to bursting its banks at Portumna in Co. Galway, according to Fianna Fail councillor Anne Rabbitte.

“The town has never been threatened by flood in living memory,” she said.

“But we are teetering on the edge right now. The wind has created a tremendous swell on the river and another 33mm of rain is forecast over the next couple of days.

“This could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Given this unfolding crisis, I am calling on the office of Public Works to put emergency flood defences in place.

“The army are already here. And the soldiers are doing a tremendous job. But they need additional help now.”

Co. Galway IFA Chairman Pat Murphy said that large acreages of land will be flooded throughout the Shannon region over the coming days

“This is inevitable: the priority must be to protect the houses and farm buildings in that area. IFA has repeatedly called for the water in the lakes downstream of Portumna to be lowered prior to the onset of winter.

“This would allow the Shannon to contain significantly higher volumes of water, in the wake of heavy rain. However, Waterways Ireland has always objected to proposals of this nature.”

Co. Clare IFA Chairman Andrew Dundas is calling on the Government and all relevant bodies to agree a strategic drainage scheme for the entire length of the River Shannon.

“I was speaking to farmers in the Upper Shannon catchment area over the weekend and they are telling me that the river is up at 2009 levels.

“This means that the Limerick:Clare area may well be devastated with floods later this week. And farmers will be left holding the can for the widespread damage that will be caused.

“The only way round this problem is to have an effective drainage programme pit in place for the Shannon.

“Apart from a very small stretch in the Limerick area, the Shannon has not been drained in my life time. But the work that was done made a real difference.

“It is important that the required drainage work must start at the Limerick end of the Shannon.”

“But it will take the support of at least eight organisations, including ESB and Waterways Ireland, before agreement on a Shannon drainage scheme can be reached.”