6 January 2016
By Tom Collins
Blame for failure to dredge rivers and streams rests squarely with the Government – says Cork based Liadh Ní Riada MEP
Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada today welcomed clarification from the European Commission that it is in fact the Fine Gael and Labour Government, and subsequent governments, that are to blame for the failure to adequately dredge rivers and streams.
“Some have commented recently that adequate dredging of rivers and streams, which may in some areas have alleviated the worst of the flooding. The Commission have said quite clearly that EU Directives do not ban dredging rivers or streams, and there is nothing in either the Water Framework, Floods, Birds or Habitats Directives that prevent dredging.
“Such works would be permissible under EU law in order to protect lives or property, or in the overriding public interest, should the Government wish to undertake them.
“The failure by successive governments over the years to adequately maintain rivers and streams, and to undertake necessary local prevention works has proven disastrous. The rush to blame the EU, or the complexities of interagency cooperation at home just add insult to injury. This Fine Gael and Labour Government, and the Fianna Fáil one previous, must take the blame.
“For almost a full month I have been calling for the Government to seek assistance from the EU Solidarity Fund, which the Commission referred to in their statement. I repeat my call to the Irish Government to apply for funds from the EUSF to aid in the clean-up operation and to aid those families and businesses affected.”
Tell me more about the EU
The European Solidarity Fund is available to offset the costs associated with regional and national emergencies. An EU member state must apply to the EU Commission within 12 weeks from the date of first damage. The application is then put before the European Council and European Parliament.
Liadh Ní Riada sits on the European Parliament’s Budgets Committee, which has responsibility for examining such applications and making recommendations thereon.
In April 2015, the EUSF granted €8.5 million to Romania, €1.98 million to Bulgaria, and €56 million to Italy in the wake of floods to help restore vital infrastructure and services, reimburse the cost of emergency and rescue actions and cover some of the clean-up costs in the disaster-stricken regions.