The President of ICMSA, John Comer, has said that affected farmers and the wider rural communities will greatly welcome the signals emanating from Government that the threat and reality of massive and frequent flooding is finally going to be taken seriously and addressed in a manner proportionate to its potential for ruin and damage. Mr Comer said that this seeming shift in policy will have to translate into a budget, a plan and action, and that a final judgment can be made at that stage. In the meantime, he stated that a very significant first step would be the setting up of a national waterways authority that would take over responsibility for the oversight and maintenance of the state’s internal waterways and designated stretches of coastline from what Mr Comer called ‘the plethora’ of agencies, bodies and quangos currently responsible for the system.
“It is an absolute truism in every facet of administration that where everyone is responsible then no-one is, and that this is very evidently the case where it comes to oversight and responsibility for our rivers and coastal areas”, said the farm leader.
“We have a situation where there is a plethora of agencies and bodies all sharing responsibility for the oversight and maintenance of our waterways and coastlines with resultant confusion about who’s doing what – or, in very many cases, who’s not doing what. We have county councils, Department of the Environment, OPW, National Parks and Wildlife Service, the ESB, various Fisheries Boards – even The Land Commission has some residual issues in certain parts of the state despite the fact that it was abolished decades ago”, he said.
“Nobody can disentangle the various strands of responsibility and the whole mess is an absolute recipe for chaos and inaction. We desperately need a central authority with sole responsibility for oversight and maintenance of all internal waterways, certain coastlines and flood management. That has got to be the first step in any serious attempt to address what looks likely to be a ongoing and potentially very serious threat to large swathes of the country. It’s cost-free and it’s logical: the Government should move immediately to set up a national waterways authority and establish its supremacy in all matters pertaining to our waterways”, said Mr Comer.
Ends 7 Feb 2014.
John Comer, 087-2057846
Cathal MacCarthy, 087-6168758
ICMSA Press Office