THE Office of Public Works has been accused of “shilly-shallying”, when it comes to the long-awaited Ennis South Flood Relief Scheme.
A recent meeting of the Ennis Municipal District was informed that a timescale for the works is not currently available. This sparked criticism from members of the council, with acting director of service Brian McCarthy telling councillors that he “understands the frustration.”
Councillor Paul Murphy initially raised the matter, requesting an update on the tendering and likely timescale of works on the scheme. He asked, “What is the latest delay and is it possible to separate the St Flannan’s and Ballybeg projects from each other in order to achieve progress?”
Eugene O’Shea, acting senior engineer, replied, “The current status in relation to the Ennis South Flood Relief Scheme is that a tender recommendation has been received from the consultants for this scheme and sent to the OPW for their approval.
“As the St Flannan’s and Ballybeg projects are both bound into the contract, it is not possible to separate them. A timescale of works is not currently available.”
However, Councillor Murphy expressed dissatisfaction with the reply, saying, “We were told it would be constructed this time next year. I don’t think that’s likely.” He called for the county engineer Tom Tiernan to give a more detailed response to the matter.
Councillor Johnny Flynn supported this request, saying that residents and businesses in the area are “facing into an uncertain winter”. “If there is a shortfall in funding, we need to put political pressure on to fill it, or get a loan,” he stated.
Councillor Ann Norton stressed, “I don’t think anybody wants to see the floods that happened again and the damage that was done to the school and houses. We have to think about the people in the area, who are living in fear.”
She continued, “We have been promised this and I don’t think we should have to wait. The OPW should be coming up with the money and starting work as soon as possible.”
Councillor Mary Howard described the works as “long overdue”. Councillor Clare Colleran Molloy said, “This is a major infrastructure project that has been delayed and delayed,” describing the acting senior engineer’s response as “not acceptable and vague”.
Councillor James Breen accused the OPW of “changing the goalposts”. He said, “The OPW is responsible for holding up this project and Clare County Council should be exonerated from blame. The OPW should stop this shilly-shallying.”
Councillor Tom McNamara said the local area is “very vulnerable” while awaiting the works. “The funding was secured, the OPW need to step up to the plate.”
Councillor Murphy concluded by stating that, even if the works begin now, the project would not be complete for two more winters.