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

The following motion was moved by Deputy Michael Collins on Wednesday, 4 November 2020:
That Dáil Éireann:
notes:
— that the Programme for Government contains a commitment to maintain a multiannual investment programme in flood relief measures to protect flood risk communities;
— that the objective of the European Union (EU) Floods Directive (2007/60/EU) is to establish a framework for the assessment and management of flood risks to reduce the negative consequences of flooding on human health, economic activities, the environment and cultural heritage in the EU;
— that the EU Floods Directive (2007/60/EU) crucially requires all member states to fully assess whether all water courses and coast lines are at risk from flooding, to quantify the overall risks and map the associated flood extent, assets and humans at risk in these areas and to take adequate and coordinated measures to reduce such flood risks;
— that flooding has far reaching negative and devastating impacts, such as emotional stress, the loss of individual homes, farms and businesses, severe associated health related issues and dramatic declines in economic competitiveness of impacted communities and regions;
— that while there has been significant social, infrastructural and economic damage caused by recent and repeated flooding across all regions, rural Ireland has been disproportionately impacted;
— that the essential and basic maintenance of Ireland’s rivers and streams is not occurring;
— that it is increasingly clear in Ireland that the current approach to flood insurance is not fit for purpose, and as such, the Government must provide proper consultation for homeowners and businesses who through no fault of their own have been flooded, as little or nothing has been done so far to address this issue and ensure urgent improvements to the current and future availability and affordability of flood insurance;
— the issue of flooding in Ireland is expected to increase in the coming years, this is evident by the current major flooding and the reoccurring flooding over the last 15 years;
— that there is a significant misunderstanding displayed by certain agencies about the ‘once in 100 years’ flood, as it means a one per cent chance of severe flooding every year;
— that the issue of flooding along the Shannon catchment is likely to worsen, both through frequency from year-to-year, and the volume of water that is spilling over banks, gathering on people’s land and threatening or destroying their homes;
— that the number of staff available to the Office of Public Works (OPW) has reduced significantly in the past few years and this is one of the primary reasons ongoing flooding is occurring in specific areas;
— that the Irish Government has failed to drawdown any available funding from the European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF), created as a relief fund to support regions impacted by severe floods across the EU, since 2009 where €13 million was allocated to Ireland from total allocations of some €5.5 billion, meaning Ireland is now the third lowest recipient of support under the scheme despite many severe flooding events here in recent years;
— that the existing flood alleviation measures in rural Ireland have proved grossly inadequate and ineffective in safeguarding communities from flood damage and heavy rains;
— the response of the OPW and local authorities’ Crisis Management and Severe Weather Assessment teams; and
— that addressing the damage caused by persistent and repeated flood damage will place substantial and unsustainable financial burdens on local authorities, farms, microenterprises, small to medium-sized enterprises and households; and
calls on the Government to:
— provide immediate and ongoing financial assistance to local authorities nationwide, to enable the timely delivery of local flood relief projects and schemes, to clear rivers, streams and drains aimed at preventing damage to businesses and private homes in towns and villages of impacted areas;
— ensure that local authorities have sufficient autonomy to facilitate the removal of silt or other obstructions, including but not limited to, over-hanging trees and branches along rivers, due to their destructive impact on flooding and consequentially on homes and businesses;
— increase the threshold of the Minor Flood Mitigation Works and Coastal Protection funding scheme, available to local authorities, from €750,000 (maximum currently) to €1 million for each project and to fast-track the processing of applications in order to alleviate the current delays associated with progressing valid submissions under the programme's economic, social and environmental criteria;
— urgently fast-track and deliver the development of the planned 150 flood relief schemes that form part of the Government’s €1 billion investment in flood relief over the lifetime of the National Development Plan to 2027, provide an annual review or update to Dáil Éireann on the implementation of the investment programme, in order to secure accountability, assess implementation and keep all impacted local citizens and communities fully up to date;
— immediately introduce a ‘ring-fenced’ current and capital funding scheme for each local authority to increase roadside operatives (employees) and contractors, with the requisite capital allocations to clear, sustain and maintain drains, gulleys, dykes and water courses;
— immediately introduce a ‘ring-fenced’ budget to each local authority to allow for cutting back road-side verges, hedges, and fences in rural communities, in the interests of flood risk prevention and road user public safety;
— immediately introduce a proper compensation package for businesses and homeowners negatively impacted with property damage or destroyed by flooding, as the current humanitarian-aid scheme omits private homes and businesses with insurance, despite some businesses having to cover their own excess of up to €10,000 per annum;
— immediately apply (as applications must be received by the Commission within 12 weeks of the date of the first damage caused by the event) for emergency funding under the multi-billion-euro EUSF to support Irish regions impacted by recent flooding across the country;
— intensify efforts to collate data on Ireland’s flooding crisis, as continuing to blame it on climate change alone is much too simplistic and idle a policy, given that across Europe, rivers are drying up in some areas, and also getting stronger, with more forceful currents in others;
— immediately increase the number of staff available to the OPW and other relevant bodies tasked with ensuring adequate levels of drainage, flood management and prevention;
— ensure the OPW carries out programmed maintenance on rivers and streams to prevent the build-up from trees, rubbish and other such debris;
— immediately critically review and publish the effectiveness of the strategies adopted by the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) Programme, the Flood Risk Management Plans (FRMPs) and the Shannon Flood Risk State Agency Co-ordination Working Group for the reduction of flood risk, publish the findings and determine whether a new single authority is needed to address issues on the Shannon (currently the OPW and the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) manages dams such as Parteen weir, while the North-South body, known as Waterways Ireland have responsibility for the rivers);
— implement significant reforms of regulations governing hedge and vegetation cutting,specifically where these materially impact the capacity of local authorities, landowners or farmers to manage and reduce flooding risks;
— put in place preventative measures for when tides are dangerously high and adopt a revised Coastal Zone Management Policy that is more integrated and more forward looking than is currently the case;
— undertake a programme to cut trees and roadside hedges along power lines, to prevent them falling onto power lines during storms, which has been shown to cause major power outages for prolonged periods;
— explore, and where possible, encourage the use of river dredging as part of a suite of measures to reduce the risk of flooding, due to the bed of silt, or clay, lying at the bottom of some rivers that has a significant impact on the water levels;
— end the short-term, stop-gap approach, to flood insurance immediately, and move to a more sustainable flood insurance approach by:
— significantly increasing efforts to address the underlying risks now and in the future, as this will help to ensure the affordability and availability of insurance; and
— increase transparency and provide clarity to citizens and stakeholders so that insurance companies cannot hide behind inaccurate, market-fixing or unsubstantiated data by implementing sanctions on such providers;
— prioritise the availability of insurance for homes and businesses adversely affected by flooding or heavy rains;
— allow farmers and landowners take the build-up of gravel and silt out of rivers as previously carried out by farmers over many generations;
— allow farmers and landowners to remove branches or trees from rivers or streams, at any time of year, without the threat of any prosecution for doing so;
— urgently proceed with clearing the remainder of the Flesk and Laune rivers, to protect the safety of residents and businesses in Killarney and Killorglin, together with similar works to be carried out on the Maine and Gweestin rivers in mid-Kerry and Castleisland areas; and
— expediate significant capital allocations to at risk towns across the country, such as Kenmare and Bantry, for flood remediation measures, while also ensuring short-term alleviation measures, such as clearing out under all bridges, occurs.
Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:
“calls for:
- further progression of the whole of Government approach that is delivering returns to managing the flood risk and coastal change for rural Ireland;
- an examination of the current regulatory requirements to be carried out; and
- the Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform with responsibility for the Office of Public Works to undertake a consultation through the Oireachtas committee structures on how best to deliver flood relief measures into the future given the challenges of climate change.”
-(Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Deputy O'Donovan)

I must now deal with a postponed division relating to the motion regarding flood prevention policies. This morning, on the question that the amendment to the motion be agreed to, a division was claimed and in accordance with Standing Order 80(2), that division must be taken now.

Amendment put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 85; Níl, 59; Staon, 0.

  • Berry, Cathal.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Carroll MacNeill, Jennifer.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Costello, Patrick.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Cathal.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frankie.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Foley, Norma.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Hourigan, Neasa.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McAuliffe, Paul.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Murphy, Verona.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noonan, Malcolm.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connor, James.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Smyth, Ossian.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Varadkar, Leo.

Níl

  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Browne, Martin.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Cairns, Holly.
  • Carthy, Matt.
  • Clarke, Sorca.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Daly, Pa.
  • Donnelly, Paul.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Gannon, Gary.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Harkin, Marian.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Mythen, Johnny.
  • Nash, Ged.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Callaghan, Cian.
  • O'Donoghue, Richard.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Darren.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Murchú, Ruairí.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Patricia.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Ward, Mark.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.
  • Wynne, Violet-Anne.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Brendan Griffin and Jack Chambers; Níl, Deputies Carol Nolan and Michael Collins.
Amendment declared carried.
Question put: "That the motion, as amended, be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 82; Níl, 57; Staon, 0.

  • Berry, Cathal.
  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Carroll MacNeill, Jennifer.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Costello, Patrick.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Creed, Michael.
  • Crowe, Cathal.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frankie.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Foley, Norma.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Hourigan, Neasa.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McAuliffe, Paul.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Murphy, Eoghan.
  • Murphy, Verona.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noonan, Malcolm.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connor, James.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Smyth, Ossian.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Varadkar, Leo.

Níl

  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Browne, Martin.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Cairns, Holly.
  • Carthy, Matt.
  • Clarke, Sorca.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Pa.
  • Donnelly, Paul.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Funchion, Kathleen.
  • Gannon, Gary.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Harkin, Marian.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Healy-Rae, Michael.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Mythen, Johnny.
  • Nash, Ged.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Callaghan, Cian.
  • O'Donoghue, Richard.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Darren.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Murchú, Ruairí.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Patricia.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Ward, Mark.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.
  • Wynne, Violet-Anne.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Brendan Griffin and Jack Chambers; Níl, Deputies Carol Nolan and Michael Collins.
Question declared carried.