Mon, Mar
21 New Articles

Rivers must be cleaned - O’Malley


'SERIOUS PROBLEM' Cllr John O'Malley.

Anton McNulty

AN Independent councillor says farmers in Kilmeena may have to take action themselves if a river which regularly floods land is not cleaned.
Carrowholly-based councillor John O'Malley pleaded for Mayo County Council and the Office of Public Works to clean parts of the Moyour River in Kilmeena, which he says has become stagnant due to trees growing in the river.
Speaking at the monthly meeting of the Westport/Belmullet Municipal District, Cllr O’Malley said that land is being flooded on a regular basis and farmers are concerned they will lose stock. He added that if the authorities do not take action, farmers may be forced to take matters into their own hands.
“This is a serious problem and we will have to come up with something. Give me a straight answer: can you [Mayo County Council] do something for us and make an application to whatever department or OPW. This is a crisis situation and has to be sorted. We can do a section this year and another next year ... if the river was cleaned there wouldn’t be as much land flooded.
“Farmers are in an awful situation. I will not stop until something is done one way or the other. We may have to take the law into our own hands which is something we don’t want to do. There will be no river flowing soon, it will be stagnant and flooding all year around if we don’t do something. I see it getting worse and worse. Come up with some sort of programme,” he requested.
Cllr O'Malley added that with modern machinery there should be no problem in clearing the trees from the river and rejected any suggestion that it will affect wildlife.
“The wildlife will move. When the new road was being built the badgers moved their sets. It was alright for the roads but we cannot clean the rivers for farmers,” he said.
Cllr O’Malley also commended the people of Westport for cleaning the river flowing through the town and said it should be kept clean and not let it go back to the state it was in.
‘Sad situation’
Westport councillor Brendan Mulroy also complimented the Westport community for cleaning the river and commented that it was a sad situation that land was being flooded due to blocked rivers.
“The situation at the moment is Cllr O’Malley wants to clean his own land and chances are ten minutes after touching the river he will be reported and people will arrive on site and he will receive a summons. You cannot clean out the rivers around your own property and that is wrong. There should be some sort of middle ground. If the land floods, the answer is to clean the rivers,” he said.
In response, Padraic Walsh, the Manager of the Municipal District said that the local authorities are only responsible for a small number of channels with the majority retained by the OPW. He added that the cleaning of rivers has become a major issue to the ecological impacts which have to be considered.
“There is a small sum in the budget for our responsibilities under the control of Tom McDonnell [Council engineer] and he deals with some channels. Those in our remit are subject to ecological impact which is a major issue and we have to have regard to it in anything we plan.
“There are two main issues; is there funding and is there ecological issues he can successfully deal with,” he said.