River Shannon levels may not begin to fall until next week, warns OPW

The President is visiting flooded communities in Galway and Wexford

River Shannon levels may not begin to fall until next week, warns OPW

President Higgins visits Labane, Co Galway via Richard Chambers on Twitter

There is a warning that levels on the River Shannon around the Midlands may not begin to fall for up to another week, leading to fears that further flooding is possible.

That is despite an improvement in the weather with Met Éireann- saying we can now expect just normal levels of rainfall.

Levels on Lough Ree are now higher than at anytime since records began in the 1930s.

And Jim Casey from the Office of Public Works (OPW) says they expect the levels to continue to rise.

The flood relief effort is continuing around the country , with more than 1,700 members of the Defence Forces deployed.

The OPW says that more funding for local authorities will be needed.

Minister Simon Harris says that they may need to top up the €8m already committed at a Cabinet meeting tomorrow.

While President Michael D Higgins says flood victims do not want to be used as a political football ahead of a general election.

It follows comments by Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice, who has criticised President Higgins for signing the EU Habitats Directive into law in 1997 while he was minister.

The Roscommon-South Leitrim TD says the directive is preventing 'badly needed' dredging and drainage work on rivers and streams around the country.

President Higgins is visiting flooded communities in Galway and Wexford.

Speaking in Labane in South Galway, President Higgins praised locals for their spirit - and said environmental concerns must not be set aside for short-term flood relief.

Meanwhile Clare County Council say that water levels on the lower river Shannon at Clonlara have fallen slightly since their peak on Saturday night.

They are continuing the flood relief effort along with the Defence Forces, and are helping to transport residents in eight properties isolated by floods.

While Westmeath County Council say that the flooding in Athlone is now 4cm higher than it reached during 2009 - and defences are under increased pressure.

23 residential units in the Bastian Quay apartments had to be evacuated yesterday after rising water levels cut off the electricity.

Some residents in cut off rural areas of Carrickobrien and Golden Island were also accomodated - bringing the total evacuated in Westmeath to 48.

The Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney says he is confident that if additional money is needed to tackle flooding, it will be forthcoming.

"I don't think that money is going to be the restriction here. The OPW has already committed €431m to flood relief between now and 2020. That is more than has been spent in the last 15 years on flood relief is going to be spent in the next five" he said. If more money is needed for SMEs, I am very confident that we will approve that tomorrow. If more money is needed for households, I'm sure the Tánaiste will approve that and bring it to Cabinet."

"If more money is needed for SMEs, I am very confident that we will approve that tomorrow. If more money is needed for households, I'm sure the Tánaiste will approve that and bring it to Cabinet".