Independent councillor Ivan Connaughton criticised the local authority’s decision to not seek further expert guidance on pumping as a way of alleviating the ongoing problem.
Cllr. Connaughton informed members that he was willing to arrange for an expert in such matters to provide information on Lough Funshinagh and other flood-affected areas free of charge. He said that there were viable solutions and it was worrying that the executive was not willing to pursue them.
“If an expert was to come in and say that pumping is not viable then that’s grand. It’s a sad situation and we need to get answers. We’re democratically elected and I’m determined to act on the mandate I’ve been given,” he said.
“I’ve never seen someone being refused to bring in an expert free of charge. It’s a disappointing day for me as a councillor. There’s something hiding behind all of this. I think the executive don’t want an expert coming in and saying that this (pumping) is possible”.
However, the council’s Chief Executive, Eugene Cummins, insisted that such a solution was not viable.
“There is no viable pumping solution for Lough Funshinagh and to make it very clear, we will not be bringing an expert into the chamber to waste members’ or officials’ time,” he said.
Cllr. Connaughton said he would organise a public meeting on the matter, and received support from fellow Independent, Nigel Dineen, who said it was “beyond belief” that the CEO would seek to ‘prevent’ members hearing from an expert.
Director of Services, Shane Tiernan, was adamant that the executive had heard from experts and said he didn’t want to give residents false hope regarding a pumping solution.
“We have our own expertise. Pumping four million cubic metres of water is a massive operation and I don’t want to give residents false hope. We want a long-term solution to this and we’ll look to do that as expeditiously as possible,” he said.
Cllr. Tony Ward maintained that an overflow pipe was the only solution and said that the CEO (Mr. Cummins) was “the only one who got the ball rolling on the issue”.
Cllr. Donal Kilduff said it would be useful to establish what the major obstacle was to a pumping solution.
“I’ve no doubt that it is technically possible. Is the major impediment other factors rather than the technicality of it?”
Cllr. John Naughten said the blame for the current situation at Lough Funshinagh lay fully with the Office of Public Works.
“They’ve washed their hands of it completely,” he said.
Mr. Tiernan added that the flooding at Lough Funshinagh needed “to be handled extremely sensitively” and that he wasn’t prepared to suggest resources were going to be put into a solution that wouldn’t work.