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The flooded grounds of St Flannan's College during the 2009 heavy rains.

Annoyance as Ennis flood relief works still some time off

FRUSTRATION is being voiced this week as work on the Ennis South Flood Relief Scheme seems unlikely to begin for some months yet.

Hopes that the work on the €4.7 million project would get underway in the middle of the year have already long been dashed.

In a statement, Clare County Council stated that the matter is currently with the Office of Public Works (OPW).

“Clare County Council has forwarded the tender report to the OPW, who are the funding authority for the project. The tender award process will proceed once approval is received from the OPW.”

It is understood that work may not start on the project for another 10 weeks.

Former Sinn Féin local and general election candidate Noeleen Moran contacted The Clare Champion this week after receiving a number of documents relating to the scheme under Freedom of Information.
These indicate that it had actually been hoped work on the project would get underway as far back as two and a half years ago.

In a statement, Ms Moran said, “Such a lengthy delay is unacceptable. We are continuously being fed a line here by the department. This scheme has come about as a result of severe flooding in 2009. It’s now eight years on and a sod hasn’t been turned, despite all the announcements.

“Hopes were raised in 2015, again in 2016 and then by the end of July 2017. Despite all the rhetoric, the scheme is being pushed out and pushed out. The funds were announced and confirmation was received by the council last year but now we learn that nothing was spent in 2016, despite the promise that it was due to commence and the commencement was reaffirmed by Government again last July, when challenged by Pearse Doherty but still nothing happened.”

She claimed that announcements on the project have not been backed up by any action.

“We are being fed a line all the time and it keeps changing but the reality is nothing was happening behind all the announcements. Each time we question it, we are getting the same vague line of response that the department has been issuing for almost a decade now, that it’s due to commence in January or February or at the end of July but it keeps getting kicked on down the road. Even when this scheme commences, it will still take two to three years to complete.”

It is now almost eight years since Ennis was overwhelmed by extreme levels of flooding and Ms Moran has called on the county’s TDs to keep applying pressure.

“It is really crucial that Clare TDs keep pushing for action on flood relief works for the county and put the scheme back on schedule. We have been listening to this same rhetoric for too long.”

The flooding that hit the town of Ennis in 2009 will hardly be forgotten by anyone who was in the town at the time. Many homes and businesses had to be abandoned due to the extent of the flooding, causing huge public distress.

Works proposed under the Ennis South Scheme include a flood overflow culvert from St Flannan’s Stream to the Clare Abbey flood plain, a flood overflow culvert from Ballybeg stream to the Clare Abbey flood plain and the upgrade of the existing flood defence embankment between the Quin Road and the Clarecastle tidal barrage, including rehabilitation and construction of sluices.

Owen Ryan

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