Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Caey has called on Minister of State Kevin Boxer Moran to ensure that discussions get under way immediately to solve the ongoing flooding at Ballycar, Newmarket on Fergus which has closed the Limerick to Ennis rail line on several occasions over recent years.
He was speaking after Iarnród Éireann reopened the line this morning following an eight week suspension of services due to flooding.
“When he visited Ennis last month, Minister Moran told me he would instruct his own officials from the Office of Public Works to meet with Clare County Council and Irish Rail with a view to coming up with a resolution. Council chief executive Pat Dowling confirmed to me at the same meeting that he would ensure the local authority’s involvement in such a meeting,” Deputy Carey explained.
“It’s not good enough that this section of rail would remain closed for extended periods of up to 20 weeks at a time and I am now calling on Minister Moran to facilitate this important meeting.”
Deputy Carey explained that bedrock exposure and thin covering of soil combine to produce a shallow network of springs, turloughs and disappearing streams in the area around Ballycar Lough. Sustained rainfall raises the water level on the lake and the flooding is exacerbated by a slow outflow stream.
“Flood waters have risen to a maximum height of 1.60 metres above the railway track, despite Iarnród Éireann raising the track level by 60 centimetres at Ballycar in 2003 to mitigate against the effects of flooding.
“In addition to causing disruption to rail services, the flooding also blocks local roads and restricts access to farm lands.
“Now that the rail service is back on track, it’s up to the OPW, Iarnród Eireann and Clare County Council to ensure that a permanent solution is put in place,” Deputy Carey concluded.