26/11/2009

Taoiseach Sees Midland's Flooding First Hand

Brian Cowen is to visit counties Westmeath and Offaly today to view the flooding in the midlands.

Yesterday, the Taoiseach acknowledged the flooding situation was an "ongoing emergency" and predicted it was likely to get worse in parts of the country.

Indeed, Met Eireann has again today issued a further weather warning, following a week of disastrous conditions and unprecedented deluges around the country. Met Eireann said today that Southwest to west winds will reach gale force at times on Irish coastal waters today from Erris Head to Malin Head to Belfast Lough.

A small craft warning was also issued by the office, saying: "Southwest to west winds will reach force 6 or 7 today on Irish coastal waters from Belfast Lough to Roche's Point to Erris Head."

Yesterday, Mr Cowen confirmed the Government was liaising with the insurance industry to make sure assessments were carried out quickly, adding that the €10 million humanitarian aid fund announced earlier this week was an "initial allocation".

However, despite the Governments assurances and visits by the Taoiseach, Fine Gael's Environment Heritage Phil Hogan this morning announced that three Government Ministers were being asked to appear before the Oireachtas Enviornment Committee to discuss the flooding crisis at his request.

The Minister for Environment and the Minister for Social & Family Affairs along with the Minister with responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW) will appear at the Oireachtas Environment Committee next Tuesday to discuss the current situation.

Mr Hogan said: "After the worst flooding in recent memory, a myriad of issues still have to be worked out and I look forward to discussing these with the Ministers responsible."

(DW/BMcC)

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