New Flood Management Coordination Group to be set up for the River Shannon

The environment minister is expected to seek an additional €10m in funding

Flooding, additional funding, River Shannon, Athlone, Met Eireann, forecast, Cabinet meeting

Private Christopher Connors of the 6th Battalion mans the pumps and sandbags as the River Shannon continues to rise and cause more flooding in Athlone | Image: RollingNews.ie

A new body is to be set up to coordinate the response to future flooding along the River Shannon.

The setup of a Flood Management Coordination and Implementation Group is among the matters being discussed at a crisis summit at Government Buildings this afternoon.

The new group would coordinate the local flood management plans for 66 different towns and settlements along the Shannon which are vulnerable to flooding.

Junior Minister Simon Harris says other measures being discussed today include funding for a long-term weather forecasting system.

"There's no point having committees and groups if you don't actually have the information that we require, and we don't have a national flood forecasting system in this country, that's why we need to develop one" he said.

"This will enable the State, it will will enable communities, it will will enable local authorities - and all bodies that have a role in the Shannon - to have the right information available so that they can make strategically important decisions to protect communities, homes and livelihoods along the River Shannon" he added.

It comes as flood waters in the River Shannon have now reached peak 2009 levels, Offaly Council Council has confirmed.

In its latest update, the local authority stated that the river hit highs which were last seen seven years ago over the past two days, as levels increased by 20mm in Banagher and by 10mm in Shannonbridge.

Council officials say electricity has been cut off to part of Shannon harbour, while it remains off in parts of Portavola Estate in Banagher.

Most householders in the area have voluntarily evacuated because of the lack of power supply and flooding of their boiler houses, but water has not actually entered any of the houses.

Power has meanwhile been switched back on at an evacuated apartment complex in Athlone.

160 residents were forced to leave the Bastion Quay apartments on the banks of the River Shannon on Sunday night after a nearby ESB substation was submerged under water.

Local Independent Councillor Kevin 'Boxer' Moran told Newstalk Breakfast earlier that the flooding is the last straw for voters.

Officials in Westmeath say water levels there are expected to stabilise and recede in coming days.

Parteen Weir

The flow of water through Parteen Weir will remain at the same level today, despite marginal increases in the water levels in Lough Derg.

The ESB is warning that water levels at the weir may reach 2009 levels in the coming days.

For now, the flow of water through Parteen will stay at 470 cubic metres per second, which is around 470,000 litres a second.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny will also hear suggestions for flood relief from Cabinet ministers at their first meeting of the New Year later.

Environment Minister Alan Kelly is expected to seek an additional €10m to help worst hit communities.

Daniel McConnell is political Editor with the Irish Examiner - and has been looking at what is likely to come out of the briefing.

It comes as further wet weather is expected tomorrow - however Met Éireann says we can expect "normal" rain amounts for this time of year.

Forecaster Gerald Fleming says the incoming front will be less intense than recent weather systems.