I appreciate the Ceann Comhairle choosing my motion for debate this evening. In recent weeks, we have experienced the worst floods in living memory. The south and west have been inundated and the Liffey burst its banks in County Kildare, flooding many areas. My constituency of Dublin Central has experienced widespread flooding during the past decade. The Ceann Comhairle will remember the former Taoiseach in wellingtons outside St. Luke's. The current Taoiseach did not get around to getting his wellingtons out in time, but the former Taoiseach was well supplied.
The flooding in that instance occurred around the Botanic Gardens and along the Tolka to East Wall, Ballybough and the Royal Canal, where there were many problems. As such, there have been substantial flood warnings, but the Government does not seem to have shown any sense or urgency in addressing the problems. In some areas of my constituency, getting home or property insurance is impossible because of the perception that they will be flooded again. Therefore, why insure the inevitable? Insurance is about the risk of something occurring, not its inevitability.
It is important that the Government addresses the issue and has a long-term strategy. It was not just today or yesterday that the warnings about climate change arrived. In January 2006, the European Commission drafted a directive, which was agreed by the Council at a summit and the European Parliament in 2007. It was passed on to the Government to enact. At this time last year, I asked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government about the legislation's status. He replied to the effect that, up until then, the Government had not considered it sufficiently even to determine which Minister would deal with it or whether it would be handled by primary or secondary legislation, namely, brought before the House or dealt with via statutory instrument. That was 12 months ago. Guess where we are now. The date of expiry for the directive's transposition has passed, but no answer has been given.
There is no sense of urgency about dealing with the matter. The directive was intended to ensure that each member state assessed the risk of flooding with a view to reducing the incidence of flooding and disasters within the EU as a whole. I would like definite information regarding the directive's status, as it impacts on the entirety of Ireland, not just my constituency.
Dublin was fortunate to escape the worst effects of the flooding, but the Liffey breached its banks. In the previous floodings, the Liffey did not do so. Had the Liffey breached its banks further down, closer to Dublin than to Kildare, there could have been substantial damage. Television images and photographs show the damage caused in Kildare, but it could have been more widespread, given the greater torrent of water close to the Liffey Estuary in the heart of Dublin. Does the Government know what it is doing and does it have a plan for flooding across the country and, more specifically, in Dublin?