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Councillor claims OPW’s actions will flood south Mayo


‘ABSOLUTELY LUDICROUS’ Fine Gael councillor, Patsy O’Brien.

Anton McNulty

THE Office of Public Works (OPW) have come in for heavy criticism from south Mayo councillors who claimed its actions will cause flooding in the region if there is heavy rain this winter.
The outrage among councillors towards the state agency was raised at last week’s monthly meeting of the Claremorris-Swinford Municipal District where an update was given on the South Mayo Flood Scheme.
Fine Gael councillor Patsy O’Brien pointed out to his fellow councillors that the level of Lough Corrib and Lough Mask was a metre higher than they should be for this time of the year. He said this was due to the OPW closing sluice gates and he claimed this will cause flooding problems in south Mayo.
“I am disgusted to tell the meeting that of the 14 sluice gates in Galway, seven were shut off since September 23. It is absolutely ludicrous that this is allowed to happen. I have been constantly at the OPW about this. We should bring the level [of the lakes] down to summer levels. If we in a local authority have not the teeth to take on the OPW then we are not worth the salt to be elected. We have suffered in south Mayo and it looks like we are in for more suffering,” he said angrily.
He was supported by Fianna Fáil councillor Damien Ryan who called for the OPW to be brought before the municipal district to explain their actions. He said this also happened in 2015 before Storm Desmond arrived and flooded large parts of north Galway and south Mayo.
“There was water all the way from Galway City right out to the N84. You couldn’t pass the Clare River and that was because the lake was kept at the wrong level. It is down to management and you plan in advance. The levels should have been dropped proportionally as we came into September. They are the issues which brought the problems in 2015 and surely people learn from these mistakes,” he said.
Foxford-based councillor Neil Cruise supported his fellow councillors, adding he was disappointed with the OPW’s attitude to flooding in Foxford.
Council engineer Tom McDonnell told the councillors he will pass on their concerns when he meets with the OPW. In relation to the South Mayo Flood Scheme he said a number of projects had received funding and were progressing.
In relation to Cong village, he described it as ‘a complex area’ for flooding and work was held up as the village was an archeological designated area and all work needs an archeological licence. He said the Abbey Bridge in Cong was not capable of taking the water and as a result they have to put a third eye on it.