Friends of the Irish Environment launched proceedings earlier this month in a bid to halt ongoing works at the turlough and yesterday the court was told that the matter had been resolved with Roscommon County Council consenting to the order to cease works.
Responding to the news on Wednesday afternoon, local Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice described the decision as a “sad day for Ireland” and a “damning indictment” of the Habitats Directive.
“It is extremely disappointing that the imperative works at Lough Funshinagh to protect peoples’ homes and livelihoods have now been halted; without even the opportunity for the case to be heard.
“If the project at Lough Funshinagh has to now go jump through hoop after hoop with all of the red tape and environmental assessments, the project won’t be completed for three years. How many more homes will be flooded in the meantime?”
Deputy Fitzmaurice also criticised EU directives: “Have we to start questioning our membership of the European Union? As legislators, are we wasting our time developing laws in this country if European directives overshadow them at every turn?
“Europe seems to have become a dictatorship, deciding how people will live their lives in this country. And I for one will not accept that Europe will be dictating to me how I live my life”.
Fellow Independent TD Denis Naughten has sought a meeting with Ministers Patrick O’Donovan and Darragh O’Brien to explore all possible options.
“The current situation could leave the community in a position where they could be forced to relocate from their homes due to the annually increasing threat of flooding, which in itself is doing serious environmental damage to the turlough, and its flora and fauna,” he said.
“As a result, I’m now seeking urgent meetings with the Minister for the Office of Public Works Patrick O’Donovan and the Minister for Housing and Local Government Darragh O’Brien. I have already been in contact with both Ministers who are fully aware of the fact that the measures that have been undertaken to date are solely to protect the homes and families and will have no impact whatsoever on the environmental management of the turlough.
“These climate mitigation works will only bring about what has traditionally been the natural removal of water from the turlough, and we now need to explore with both Ministers how we can bring legal clarity to these mitigation measures, provide the local community with reassurance regarding its survival and also provide certainty for other communities facing similar threats in future,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil Senator Eugene Murphy said he was disappointed for flood-affected residents.
“The court decision means that the misery now goes on longer for the people of the area. I have spent considerable time recently with members of Friends of the Irish Environment in an attempt to get an agreement that this essential work would continue.
“As far as I’m concerned, not all is lost – it’s back to the drawing board. But we don’t have much time to stand at the drawing board if we are to save the residents from total ruin,” he said.