IFA calls for Government to cancel farm inspections due to flooding

The level of water in Lough Derg increased marginally in the past 24 hours, the ESB says

athlone, shannon, flooding, ireland, response, defence, forces, water, rain, river

Swans glide by a sandbag barrier on The Strand in Athlone Town, in the ongoing battle against the rising waters of the Shannon River. Photo: RollingNews.ie

The Irish Farmer’s Association (IFA) is urging the Government to do more to help farmers affected by flooding.

At this stage up to 100,000 hectares of land are under water and communities remain on alert with more rain forecast for this week.

Tonight the risk of flooding persists along the River Shannon - however defences are said to be holding steady in Athlone for now.

The IFA’s Tom Turley says he is concerned about Farmer's mental health and wants routine Department of Agriculture inspections called off.

“This is just in disarray at the moment,” Mr Turley

“I can’t emphasise this enough, the Department have got to stop these inspections forthwith.

“The minister just needs to come out and say I’m calling of all inspections under force majeur circumstances – end of,” he added.

The National Emergency Co-ordination group has said today that water levels in most rivers are falling.

However, water is still rising in the lower half of the River Shannon, although at a lower rate than yesterday.

The rainy weather is due to continue for the next six or seven days with the south and south-west regions forecast to get the heaviest rainfall.

Met Eireann is closing monitoring rainfall over the next few days, in case there's a need for an orange alert or higher to be issued.

The ESB will not increase the amount of water flowing through the Parteen Weir today.

It says the level of water in Lough Derg increased marginally in the past 24 hours and is warning that flooding is likely in communities along the River Shannon.

Residents in parts of Athlone say Christmas is on hold as they try to keep rising waters from flooding their homes.

It is raining heavily in the town this morning and around 50 homes are at risk of flooding in the town, but volunteers have been working around the clock to keep the water at bay.

So far, just three homes have flooded, thanks to a huge local effort, including by volunteers.

Brendan Callinan has been overseeing water pumps at The Strand on the banks of the Shannon, for over a week.

He's keen to get the message out that Athlone is open for business:

Newstalk reporter Kieran Cuddihy told Breakfast this morning that there is a call in Athlone for more volunteers to help man pumps and prepare for any further bad weather.

Sand bags block a doorway at a house in Athlone, Westmeath (Juliette Gash)

The Shannon is set to peak this week following heavy rain and poor conditions in recent days.

50 homes were evacuated over the weekend - and 220 members of the Defence Forces were deployed to assist affected areas.

The worst hit area was Corbally in Limerick City, where 14 homes were flooded as council workers struggled to open a canal lock.

Anti Austerity Alliance Councillor Cian Prendiville says serious questions need to be answered, and says it seems to have been a "comedy of error" that has led to people's homes being damaged.

Local authorities are compiling data on the cost of the clean-up after the floods, which is likely to run into millions of euro.

Minister of State Simon Harris spoke to Newstalk Breakfast about the response to the flooding. He is set to visit Bandon and Skibbereen in Co Cork, two areas that have been particularly badly affected in recent days and weeks.

"There has been a really strong inter-agency approach, but the reality of the situation is the people in Bandon need a flood relief screen, and they're not going to rest - and I'm not going to rest - until that's in place," he said.

AA Roadwatch is advising that some routes across Leinster and Munster are flooded following rainfall over the weekend, while flooding also remains a problem in parts of Connacht and Ulster following last weekend's Storm Desmond.

The worst affected areas include Clare, Galway, Mayo, Sligo and Leitrim.

Irish Rail is warning that the line between Carrick-on-Shannon and Longford remains flooded, and there will be less capacity on Longford trains as a result.