Lough Funshinagh: ‘Not positive at present, but we’re determined to find solution’

Minister and OPW update local community

A Government Minister says there is “no doubt” that the Lough Funshinagh crisis will end up in the courts again.

Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan told representatives of the Lough Funshinagh Flood Crisis Committee that he, the OPW and Roscommon County Council remain determined to find a solution to the flooding that has proven so devastating for families in the stricken area.

Minister O’Donovan indicated that while the current situation is not positive, no stone will be left unturned in efforts to ensure that a solution is found.

The meeting between Lough Funshinagh Flood Crisis Committee (LFFCC) and Minister Patrick O’Donovan was held on Thursday last (November 10th) in the Office of Public Works, George’s Quay in Dublin.

The LFFCC was represented by Tom Carney (Chairperson), Geraldine Murray (Secretary), Matthew Beattie, Michael Beattie, Sinead Beattie and Maria Carney.

Also present were Deputies Michael Fitzmaurice, Claire Kerrane and Denis Naughten, and Senators Aisling Dolan and Eugene Murphy.

The OPW was represented by its Executive Chairman, Maurice Buckley.

The purpose of the meeting was to update the LFFCC

regarding developments on Lough Funshinagh since the parties last met, in July 2022.

Mr. O’Donovan reported that consultation with

Roscommon County Council – “the lead agency for this project” – had been ongoing over the summer.

The meeting heard that the overall situation is not positive and it will take considerable time to agree and plan a viable solution “due to the many variables”. The OPW has reflected on the outcome of all Judicial proceedings and will issue a report by the end of November. The meeting heard that all options will be back on the table, one will then be chosen based on its prospects for success, and it will then be put through the planning process.

As he is in no doubt that the issues will come before the courts again – as when legal action against works at Lough Funshinagh was initiated by ‘Friends of the Irish Environment’ – Minister O’Donovan said no stone will be left unturned so as to ensure this work will be done properly “under the leadership of Roscommon County Council”. He added that “what happens Lough Funshinagh now and into the future has huge implications for the rest of the country”.

The meeting heard that all options and potential solutions, including the pipe, must now be explored and examined in an effort to reduce the flood waters of the Lough. Only then can the most suitable option be identified. Further surveys are also needed in order to identify a viable solution towards developing a tool that will predict the action of the Lough into the future. This process must be executed with perfection, the meeting was told.

In the interim, Roscommon County Council have a plan in place to manage the risk provided the capacity of the Lough does not exceed the capacity of 2020/21 – which was 69 metres.

Placing emphasis on protection of the SAC, homes and properties, Minister O’Donovan said he is adamant that the “law cannot be broken”. It was emphasised that the public should not have an expectation of de- designating a SAC. The view was expressed that this would require at least three years or more to consider, and in all likelihood it would not be successful.

 

Expert Working Group

 

A decision was taken to establish an Expert Working Group, led by the County Council, and consisting of representation from the Office of Public Works, Roscommon County Council itself, and the Department of Agriculture, National Parks and Wildlife. (The OPW will meet with the County Council on November 25th to finalise the Terms of Reference for this group). Stakeholders of this group will report to a high-level Steering Group within the OPW.

The Lough Funshinagh Flood Crisis Committee were assured that they are considered to be key stakeholders by the OPW and will be informed at all times of progress, or lack of same, in respect of the OPW’s dealings with the Council.

Minister O’Donovan agreed to meet with the committee and members of local communities in County Roscommon in early spring/summer of 2023.