We must face up to climate change in the wake of Storm Eleanor, says Galway City Mayor

Published by Sorcha McManigan on

January 4th, 2017

Ireland must face up to its responsibilities to cut greenhouse gas emissions and take more action on environmental issues, the mayor of Galway City has said in the wake of Storm Eleanor.

Clean-up operations are still ongoing in Galway City after storm surges on Tuesday evening brought flash flooding which Cllr Flannery described as a “baby tsunami”.

Following the storm, Councillor Pearce Flannery told The Green News that we must “embrace our responsibilities with regard to emissions, with regard to environmental issues and not just to pay the lip service”.

Mr Flannery explained that coastal erosion, flooding and bearing the brunt of storms coming in from the Atlantic Ocean will be a huge problem in the future, not only for Galway, but the entire West Coast of Ireland. “Climate change is gone to such a level now, that we know it is there and we know these [floods] aren’t isolated incidences,” he added.

Backlash at flood response  

Galway City Council received criticism over their flood preparations in the aftermath of Storm Ophelia after releasing a statement on Tuesday evening that no serious flooding was expected” in Galway City due to the direction of the wind.

Cllr Flannery said that the backlash was “very unfounded” and “unwarranted” and commended the work of the emergency services, Council workers, the Defense Forces and volunteers working on the ground to tackle the flooding.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland yesterday, Minister of State for Flood Relief Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran also said that he didn’t think yesterday was the day for a “blame game”, adding that his job was to reassure people that the Government is behind them and here to support them.

Cllr Flannery said that he met yesterday with Mr Moran to discuss the on-going situation and received confirmation that Galway City will be prioritised for flood funding going forward.

Mayor Flannery is now calling on the government to find the money and put flood defenses in place as the alternative would be so enormously damaging to businesses, communities and health, the payment figure would become insignificant.

In a statement to The Green News, Mr Moran said the situation in Galway “will continue to be closely monitored”, and that Government support and assistance would be provided to small businesses and people affected in the area.

The Minister with Responsibility for Defense Paul Kehoe has launched a humanitarian flooding scheme to be administered by the Irish Red Cross.

Small businesses with less than 20 employees will be eligible for the emergency funding, together with sport clubs and community organisations unable to secure flood insurance. The scheme will begin immediately to provide aid up to €5,000 depending on the scale of the damage caused.

A second stage of the relief scheme will provide additional support for premises that have incurred significant damages exceeding €5,000. The total level of support available for both stages combined will be capped at €20,000.

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Sorcha McManigan

Sorcha has a Degree Honours in Journalism with French from DIT and is passionate about social issues and radio production