Local TD Denis Naughten will this week question the Minister for Housing, Darragh O’Brien TD in the Dáil on the steps which are being taken to review the laws which impact on the flood relief works at Lough Funshinagh.
“Last month Minister Patrick O’Donovan told me that he has passed on the correspondence from Roscommon County Council to Minister O’Brien as the concerns raised in the Council letter are matters for the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage,” said Denis Naughten.
“I now want an update from Minister O’Brien on what steps he is taking on foot of this letter to review the current laws which are blocking the completion of flood relief works at Lough Funshinagh.”
“This is not only important to address the plight of the families in the vicinity of Lough Funshinagh, but if the current legal situation is not addressed then this very same issue will be faced by many other families across the country in the near future.”
“Last week, I also had the opportunity to raise the present humanitarian crisis faced by the eight families in Ballagh and Lisphelim in the Dáil with Minister Michael McGrath who was responding on behalf of the Taoiseach, and there is no doubt that he is fully aware of the situation on the ground.”
“While it is clear to me that there is support right across Government to help progress this project, I believe that it is imperative that if this good will is to turn into action then we need to have a cross-departmental taskforce established.”
“I believe that we need such a taskforce to ensure that there is a coordinated response right across Government to deliver flood mitigation measures such as those required at Lough Funshinagh” concluded Denis Naughten.
Questions on Policy or Legislation
29th June 2022
I refer to Private Members’ motion No. 152 on the Order Paper, which seeks the direct intervention of the Government to address a humanitarian crisis faced by eight families in the Ballagh and Lisphelim area of south Roscommon due to the increasing water level in Lough Funshinagh, a situation that is deteriorating daily due to the current heavy rainfall. The motion seeks the establishment of a cross-departmental task force to address emergency climate adaptation measures to protect homes nationwide by reforming the present legislation, without which the only option that may be open to families facing the threat of flooding, where works impact on a designated habitat, is to have the homes demolished and the families relocated. In the middle of a housing emergency, the very last thing we should be doing is demolishing homes. Will the Government commit to bringing all State players together to address the present legal impasse to flood alleviation works?
I thank Deputy Naughten for raising this issue, which I know has quite a history to it. I assure him of the work that is ongoing within the Government to make progress on this. As many of the issues fall within the remit of the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, the Minister of State, Deputy O’Donovan, who has responsibility for the Office of Public Works, OPW, has referred these matters to the Minister, Deputy O’Brien, for his early consideration and has highlighted that OPW officials are available to discuss these matters with his Department and with other key stakeholders.
Under the direction of the Minister of State, Deputy O’Donovan, senior officials from the OPW met with the CEO of Roscommon County Council and the senior engineer on Monday, 20 June, just last week. The meeting focused on identifying possible approaches to a viable solution to manage the flood risk at Lough Funshinagh, and further meetings are being scheduled to follow up on the points discussed. The Minister of State, Deputy O’Donovan, has assured the council of his and the OPW’s continued support for the council as it works to find a solution to manage the flood risk at Lough Funshinagh.
Copy of Dáil motion No. 152:
That Dáil Éireann recognises
-the very serious humanitarian crisis faced by eight families in Ballagh & Lisphelim, Co. Roscommon;
– the significant threat to eight properties, eight businesses, and some 300 hectares of farmland;
And as a result of the significant flooding threat due to the lake levels at Lough Funshinagh, Co. Roscommon, calls on the Government to
– establish as a matter of urgency a cross-departmental and cross-agency task force to address emergency climate adaptation measures to protect homes throughout the country;
– set as the first item on the agenda of this task force the authorisation of flood alleviation works at Lough Funshinagh, Co. Roscommon, as a case study;
– set out a clear procedure for the repeal of EU habitats designations where they are no longer applicable;
– remove the EU habitats designation on Lough Funshinagh, Co. Roscommon, which is no longer, if ever, a turlough;
– amend the Planning and Development Acts and the Local Government Act 2001 to make clear what freedom the State considers a Local Authority should have to deliver an urgent solution to an emergency situation that requires immediate action;
– amend the Local Authority (Works) Act 1949 to ensure that the legislation is effective for the purpose of EU law on the assessment of the impact on the environment and/or habitats;
– provide formal guidance to all competent authorities on whether adaptation by displacement of homeowners should be considered as a “feasible solution” when contemplating any adverse effect on the integrity of a European site;
– amend the protection from legal costs to ensure that the State is not more generous than that required under EU law;
And further calls on the Government to ensure pumps, fuel, and personnel are in place to prevent homes from flooding around Lough Funshinagh while the task force completes its work.
Denis Naughten, Sean Canney, Michael Fitzmaurice, Marian Harkin ,Verona Murphy, Matt Shanaghan