A meeting of representatives from the Lough Funshinagh Flood Crisis Committee (LFFCC) met with Minister Patrick O’Donovan and members of the OPW and Roscommon County Council on Thursday, February 1st last in the Athlone Springs Hotel.
Deputy Michael Fitzmaurice and Senators Aisling Dolan and Eugene Murphy were also in attendance.
Minister O’Donovan restated his commitment to tackling the problem of flooding at Lough Funshinagh, acknowledging that this is a tragic situation which has gone on for too long.
Mr Greg O’Donnell, from Roscommon County Council, provided an overview of what has been done so far, explaining that a consultant for the baseline study has been appointed and seasonal variations on ecology and habitats are being studied. This process will be concluded in September.
Lough Funshinagh is a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), so the objective is that any actions taken will have a positive effect on the SAC for the future.
The roads have now been raised as much as possible. The road to Lisphelim has been closed as this is very close to a major flood and the road to Ballagh will be closed in the next two to three weeks.
Mr John Mockler, engineer with Roscommon County Council, stated that Lough Funshinagh is currently at 68.73m, which is the same level as February 14th 2021.
Mr Jim Casey, from the OPW, stated that his Department is working closely with Roscommon County Council, and that regular meetings are taking place.
LFFCC members provided updates from the communities around Lough Funshinagh.
Mr Matthew Beattie gave an overview of the human impact of the flooding, with the constant threat to homes and environment. He said that residents live surrounded by constant pumping and experience ongoing anxiety and stress.
Recently a house almost went under water, which would have had serious consequences and was a “near-miss”. Mr Tom Carney, Ms Marie Martin-Carney and Mr Michael Beattie also described the experience of living with the constant threat of flooding.
Mr Michael Beattie stated that if Lough Funshinagh is allowed to run out of control, all nearby villages will be submerged.
Minister O’Donovan acknowledged the situations local residents are in and pledged to continue to tackle the problem. He reiterated that the crisis in Lough Funshinagh is very important to the OPW and that a solution must be reached.
He pointed to the impact of climate change across Ireland with rising water levels, and said that what is happening at Lough Funshinagh could become the norm in Ireland. Lough Funshinagh therefore has national importance, and flood relief needs to be provided.
The next meeting will take place at the end of April 2024.