Government overruns in funding the new National Children’s Hospital have resulted in Portumna’s flood defences being put on the back burner, a local TD has claimed.
According to Deputy Anne Rabbitte (FF), despite being identified as ‘high risk’ by the Catchment Flood Risk Assessment and Management (CFRAM) reports in 2016, the Minister was failing to act because of cut backs in funding for flood relief.
“Portumna, under the CFRAMs assessment, was identified as high risk. It said there was one big gap in the length of the Shannon that could cause flooding and that was in Portumna,” she said.
In a parliamentary question to the Minister with responsibility for the OPW and Flood Relief, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, Deputy Rabbitte queried the development of flood relief schemes in South Galway.
In relation to Portumna, Minister Moran said: “The Portumna Flood Relief Scheme is not being progressed in the first phase of investment under the Government’s €1 billion flood risk capital programme, but will be progressed in the coming years and within the ten-year timeframe for the programme of investment.”
The commitment to complete this within ten years was akin to “giving the two fingers to the people of Galway”, said Deputy Rabbitte.
She said if the Shannon were to burst its banks in Portumna, it would block the N65 – a main artery she said that provided access to schools and hospitals for three provinces.
This was an example of “willful neglect” by the Government, said Deputy Rabbitte.
“A lot of people from Lorrha have to go to Ballinasloe to have their babies; it’s a main route for people getting from South Galway to both Galway and Limerick Cities.
“Boxer [Moran] referred millions back to the Children’s Hospital Fund last year. We’re paying for the Children’s Hospital in Portumna, as far as I’m concerned,” she said.
The CFRAMs assessment had offered two options to protect Portumna from flooding, she said, one that would have cost £2.1 million and the other – the one that was selected – costing €3.96 million.
The risk of flooding was hampering potential investment in Portumna, claimed Deputy Rabbitte.
“In the overall scheme of things, Portumna has lost its hotel and has done its best to survive, but there has been a total lack of investment in the ‘Hidden Heartlands’,” she added.
Another incident of flooding such as the one that occurred during Storm Desmond in 2015 would be enough to close several businesses, she continued.
“Locally, we have done as much as we can. The design is done for this gate; Portumna has been identified as high-risk; it’s now in the Minister’s gift to fund it.”
Minister Moran had invested heavily in flood protection schemes in his own constituency in Athlone, she said, which would likely create further flooding problems further down the Shannon in places like Portumna.
“So, not only are we going to pay the price of not getting flood protection, he has invested so much in his own place that it’s going to be coming down on top of us even quicker,” she said.
Failure to act now could end up costing the state even more than the almost €4 million invested needed, said Deputy Rabbitte, because the environmental assessments already carried out will be deemed out of date if this drags on for another five years.
In relation to the Gort Lowlands Flood Relief Scheme, the Minister confirmed to Deputy Rabbitte that a feasibility and route selection assessment was expected to be completed by early 2020.
“If the development scheme is acceptable from an environmental and cost benefit perspective, it is possible that construction will commence in 2021, with an estimated construction period of eighteen months,” said Minister Moran.
However, Deputy Rabbitte said it should be noted that this statement was “couched in uncertainty”.
Galway SVP launches annual appeal as national calls reach record levels
Society of St. Vincent de Paul members made around 18,000 visits to homes in the Galway area last year – spending over €1m per year on direct assistance in the area.
And the charity, which helps with a myriad of practical, emotional and psychological problems, has only seen demand for its service grow under Covid.
That’s according to the Presidents of both Galway branches, as the organisation launched its Annual Appeal this week – predicting that, nationally, calls for help will be at their highest level in its history and could reach almost 200,000 by the end of December.
“We are seeing a lot of people getting in touch who have never needed to before, people whose circumstances have changed due to Covid,” said SVP Galway City East President Frank Leonard. “
We in the SVP have adapted to the new way of doing things and ensuring we are getting to people who need help.”
“The bulk of this goes to helping families with food, energy and education costs. Our volunteers are also involved in Education and Youth Initiatives and work directly with the elderly across Galway City,” he added.
SVP Galway City West President Seamus McManus said that they depend entirely on donations from the public and corporate donors – but, he said, thankfully the generosity of the people of Galway to SVP over the years has been outstanding.
“We hope that the response to this year’s Annual Appeal is as equally generous. The money raised in Galway is used locally and this Annual Appeal will support SVP’s work between now and year end and well into 2022,” he added.
National President Rose McGowan said the fact that the Society has received more calls for help nationally than at any other time in its history – and still managed to provide help – was testimony to the dedication of its volunteers and staff and the incredible support of the Irish public.
“We are facing a perfect storm for families contending with a cost-of-living crisis on multiple fronts. Energy prices are soaring, we are seeing rents rise well beyond what people can afford and increasing transport costs are also putting pressure on low-income households,” she said.
“We are deeply concerned that during the coming months this crisis will come to a head as households are unable to find extra room in the budget for escalating energy costs.
“In those circumstances they will inevitably turn to SVP for help. Need is the only criteria we apply when people seek our help. But to provide that help we need the generous support of the Irish public that we are seeking through this 2021 Annual Appeal.
“We are appealing for donations to be made locally, online or over the phone that will help people through this winter and into the new year,” she added.
The public can help by donating online to www.svp.ie and nominate ‘Galway’, or by phoning 0818 176 176 and again nominating ‘Galway’.
You can also do this by post to SVP, West Region, Ozanam House, St Augustine’s St, Galway, with cheques made payable to Society of St. Vincent de Paul Galway Area – or keep an eye out for special blue envelopes that will be in newspapers, churches and delivered to homes throughout the country.
Top award for political heavyweight with Galway roots
The son of Galway parents who went on to become Mayor of Boston before moving to Washington to become President Joe Biden’s Secretary of Labour was honoured for his achievements in his native city last week.
Close to 500 guests gathered for the Ireland Funds 40th Annual Boston Gala, where Martin J. Walsh, 29th Secretary of Labor of the United States of America, was presented with The Ireland Funds 2021 Distinguished Leadership Award.
Martin Walsh’s parents were originally from Galway; his father emigrated to the US in 1956 and mother in 1959, before they met in Boston and married there.
The Ireland Funds is a global philanthropic network. Established in 1976, its mission is to harness the power of a global network of friends of Ireland to promote and support peace, culture, education, and community development throughout the island of Ireland, and among Irish communities around the world.
The Boston Gala is one of the largest of The Ireland Funds’ international events and over $1.3 million was raised during the night to support outstanding charitable causes within across the island of Ireland and in the Boston community.
Returning to the city of Boston where he was Mayor for seven years, Martin J. Walsh spoke of his family’s immigration to the US from Galway and the importance of welcoming immigrants of all backgrounds seeking new opportunities, as his family once did, and of paying that opportunity forward.
He thanked those gathered for their generosity to the Ireland Funds and its vital work across Ireland as well as for the City of Boston.
Craughwell turn the screw in second half to take the spoils
Liam Mellows 2-9
Ivan Smyth in Loughrea
CRAUGHWELL secured Junior A honours in their replay with Liam Mellows as a powerful second half display helped them atone for their 2020 final defeat to Clarinbridge.
The winners fired nine points without reply in an 18 minute spell during the second half which decided a contest that in the opening 30 minutes looked as if the winner would not be known until the concluding stages. The win means Craughwell will now field at senior and intermediate level next year as the club’s stock continues to rise.
The Pat Monaghan and Stephen Glennon managed side survived a challenging opening quarter and the subsequent concession of a soft goal just after the first water break to prevail. A Fergal Healy penalty in the 24th minute gave Craughwell a lead they would not surrender as Brian Dolan’s accuracy up front combined with a rock solid defence proved enough to curb the threat of a Liam Mellows side that simply did not perform in the second half.
They only scored one point from play in the concluding period of action with a late Luke Byrnes 20m free finding the net, but the effort only served to keep the losing margin to single digits. Owen Burke’s side did pile forward after conceding nine points on the spin, but Craughwell looked the fresher outfit and were able to use their pace on the counter attack.
Liam Mellows will look back on the opening quarter with regret as they dominated the action,but were only on level terms at 0-4 apiece when referee Gerry Donoghue blew for the first water break. They were in control of the game, but allowed Craughwell into the contest, mainly through their own poor shooting as they struck five opening quarter wides.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App
Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.
Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite HERE.
Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.