Flood Prevention Measures: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]

The following motion was moved by Deputy Eugene Murphy on Tuesday, 13 December 2016:
“That Dáil Éireann:
notes:
— the unprecedented scale and intensity of flooding in 2015;
— the fact that some 500 homes and 400 businesses were flooded over the winter months, with an estimated €100 million in damages over a series of storms;
— the escalating extreme weather events globally and in Ireland, with data from reinsurance group Munich RE showing a near nine-fold rise since 1980 in losses to the insurance industry arising from weather-related catastrophes, after adjusting for inflation;
— the Met Éireann projections for the Irish climate that winters are expected to become wetter, with increases of up to 14 per cent in precipitation under the high emission scenarios by mid-century; and
— that these trends and projections point towards a heightened likelihood of major flood events into the future;
further notes:
— the ongoing implementation of the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management programme;
— the planned €430 million six year programme of capital investment on flood defence measures as part of the Government’s overall Capital Investment Plan 2016 – 2021; and
— the series of specific actions outlined by the Government on 5 and 26 January 2016, to address and alleviate flooding concerns, namely:
— the establishment of a Shannon Flood Risk State Agency Co-ordination Working Group;
— the once off temporary scheme, in December 2015, administered by the Irish Red Cross for businesses which was extended to include community, voluntary and sporting organisations and remained open for people to apply for assistance until 21 February 2016;
— targeted support for farmers affected by the flooding;
— the Office of Public Works (OPW) overseeing two pilot ‘individual home protection schemes’;
— the meeting between the Taoiseach and relevant Ministers with insurance industry representatives on 12 January 2016; and
— the establishment of a National Flood Forecasting and Warning Service;
condemns the:
— ongoing underspend in flood defence schemes as part of capital expenditure plans;
— failure to fully implement the flood alleviation announcements of January 2016;
— continued delays and denials of insurance for home owners and businesses across the country; and
— administrative and structural issues hindering the effective management of water levels along the River Shannon; and calls on the Government to:
— ensure there are no statutory impediments to regulating the water levels on the River Shannon and the implementation of dredging where required;
— establish a single River Shannon agency on a statutory basis;
— ensure households and businesses are given adequate flood insurance, in particular those in areas where the OPW has invested in standard 1 in 100 year flood defence structures; and
— address capital underspend in the roll out of investment in flood defences.”
Debate resumed on amendment No. 2:
(a) To delete all words from “the series of specific actions outlined” up to and including the words “State Agency Co-ordination Working Group” and substitute the following:
“— the progress with the delivery of the series of specific actions outlined by the Government on 5 and 26 January 2016, to address and alleviate flooding concerns, namely:
— the establishment of a Shannon Flood Risk State Agency Co-ordination Working Group that is ensuring the best possible level of co-ordination between all statutory bodies involved in flood management on the Shannon, including initiatives to pilot lowering lake levels, consider strategic maintenance programmes, and consider the benefits of piloting removal of pinch points;”
(b) To delete all words from “the meeting between the Taoiseach and relevant Ministers” up to and including the words “the effective management of water levels along the River Shannon” and substitute the following:
“— the meeting between the Taoiseach and relevant Ministers with insurance industry representatives on 12 January 2016 and the evidence that the current Government’s policy on flood insurance is delivering benefits including an agreement for the OPW to meet with Insurance Ireland on a quarterly basis from now on;
— the establishment of a National Flood Forecasting and Warning Service; and
— the implementation of a €2 million targeted voluntary home relocation scheme and further examination of a targeted farmyard relocation scheme;” and
(c) To delete the following after the words “dredging where required”:
“— establish a single River Shannon agency on a statutory basis”.
-(Minister of State at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Deputy John Halligan)

I must now deal with a postponed division relating to amendment No. 2 on the motion regarding flooding. On Tuesday, 13 December 2016, on the question that the amendment to the motion be agreed to, a division was claimed and in accordance with Standing Order 70(2), that division must be taken now. The Clerk would normally ring the bells but I understand the Government has a proposal in regard to amendment No. 2.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment No. 1:

(a) To insert the following after “further notes”:

“- that the need for public investment has been highlighted by groups and organisations as diverse as IBEC, the Economic and Social Research Institute, the Nevin Economic Research Institute, the Think-tank for Action on Social Change, the European Commission, the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council and Social Justice Ireland;

- that given almost ten years of under-investment and unmet demographic pressures, the Government’s shockingly low level of capital investment is reckless and unsustainable;” and

(b) To insert the following after “flood defence schemes as part of capital expenditure plans”:

“- deficit in public capital investment which is not capable of addressing the serious infrastructural issues facing the Irish State;

- fact that the Irish State has one of the lowest spends in public capital investment in the European Union;

- current level of public investment which is simply too low to provide the flood relief, housing, services and infrastructure that is so desperately needed;

Amendment put and declared lost.
Motion agreed to.