A new tender for completion of the €8.6 million Ennis South flood relief scheme will be advertised within the coming weeks according to Clare Fine Gael TD, Joe Carey.
Deputy Carey received the assurance following an exchange with Minister of State Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran in the Dáil last week. Carey told Moran that the time for false starts was long over for people whose homes and property were badly affected by flooding in the Clare Road, Clonroadmore, Tobarteascáin and Ballybeg areas of Ennis/Clarecastle.
Moran explained, “On foot of legal and other advice, Clare County Council, decided to re-tender the project. The circumstances giving rise to this situation could not have been foreseen and were dealt with by Clare County Council in an appropriate manner”.
Speaking in the Dáil, Carey flagged that the completion of the first two phases of the Ennis flood relief scheme involved a serious investment to mitigate the potential for Ennis town centre to flood as had happened in 1989, 1994, 1995, 1999, 2004 and 2009.
As part of the third and final element of the scheme, two flood overflow culverts from the stream at St. Flannan’s College and the stream at Ballybeg to the River Fergus will be constructed. The flood defence embankments between the Quin Road and Clarecastle tidal barrage will also be upgraded as will the existing back drainage system.
Flood risks still remain and Carey is “disturbed” by the further delay. “The St. Flannan’s and Ballybeg streams continue to pose serious flood risks to householders in both Ennis and Clarecastle. Each winter these streams are overwhelmed with water and at times of heavy rainfall, flooding is caused to houses and public roads. Householders, business owners and the school community at St. Flannan’s have waited patiently since 2009 for this problem to be finally tackled. A package of €8.6 million was supposed to be in place to enable the scheme to finally move to construction. To put it mildly, it is deeply disturbing and highly concerning that the scheme has been delayed yet again.
“All the delays mean the scheme will cost more with the additional charge being put on the taxpayer. All the time, the residents, business people and school authorities at St. Flannan’s are left without proper flood protection measures, and they cannot get full flood insurance.
According to Mora, the OPW remain committed to funding the scheme. “Work on the re-tender process is under way, and the new tender competition should be ready for advertising on the Official Journal of the European Union website in late July or early August. This project is very important to me and to the Office of Public Works. We will continue to work with and offer every assistance to Clare County Council to ensure the work commences as soon as possible”.
In reply, Deputy Carey stated “It is simply not good enough to say the relevant information will be published on a website in the next couple of months and that the project will proceed to construction in the spring. We need a clear understanding. All the stakeholders need to know the number of phases in the project, how long it will take and when construction will definitely happen. We need absolute clarity and certainty for the people of Ennis. The time for false starts is clearly over. I do not doubt the commitment of the Minister of State to the project but we need clarity. Will he publish in very clear language a timeline that the stakeholders can buy into and understand?”
Stating that he had done a lot of work with Clare County Council on the Ennis South scheme, Minister Moran added that he didn’t of any other scheme that had moved fast enough to do what he was doing in regard to the scheme in Ennis. “If it needs more money, I will be committed in that regard also. I do not and will not accept that I am not doing my job. I am delivering exactly as I promised. When the circumstances arose, I dealt with them in the fast, appropriate manner that anyone else in my position would have to deal with them. Deputy Carey should trust me when I say to him that I have dealt with this speedily. I am very pleased to say the people are not waiting on something that will be going back to tender next year. I can inform the House of a re-tendering process today, and I am happy with that,” he concluded.