With the flood waters retreating, they are down 500mm at the Wooden Bridge across from the house, the work of cleaning up and inquest get under way. Most of the verbal rubbish ensuing is coming from politicians, both local and national and from state aided local institutions like CLEAN or Cavan and Leitrim Environmental Awareness Network who come out of the woodwork every now and then to moan and groan about developers and planning authorities building on natural flood plains in a retrospective beef instead of at planning stage when their energies might have more effect.
If building on flood plains was a no no there would be no New York, No Belfast, no Bordeaux wine growing region and most of Holland, Belgium and Northern France would be part of the North Sea from whence they came, rescued by engineers, hydrologists and money. As with every problem the right amount of thought and skill applied removes the problem to a commercial one which if solved by the developers and financial houses means there is no problem at all. If the areas highlighted by the recent floods had had these experts introduced at an early stage by planning authority and developer there would have been little problem. Look at Woodies complex in Carrick on Shannon. a development built on a flood plain that flooded if there was a slight drizzle for two hours on a Monday morning but in this time of record water levels this development stood out like a beacon to correct design, planning and consideration. Albeit costing an arm and a leg and possibly adding greatly to development budgeting which could be the making or breaking of a specific deal, this prior thought and planning is essential. If you build it high enough and link it to a correct drainage system and the project can afford it, the developer and his future tenants have no problem.
That is why the wily Mr G covered himself in glory at Wooden Bridge when the record flood levels came within 100mm of flooding the first house on his cosy development. He just about built it high enough although he did seem to let down his cause slightly by allowing the road and driveway gullies to out fall into the said original flood plain so that rising waters first of all made islands of the first two houses.
I know there are many other reasons for these recent high water levels all of which the government of the day for the last 90 years have failed to address, but failure to confront pressing problems is a systematic weakness in this country’s political agenda. Cosying up to cronies who are doing better than you and turning procrastination into an art form is what most politicians aspire to.
What is inexcusable is when greed and laziness enter the development equation (greed by the developer and laziness by the local authority) and deliberate short cuts are made to ensure completion of the site without consideration of third parties or future tenants. Both local authority and developer can wriggle but both are as culpable as each other.
Take for example a recent development here in Boyle. The land allocated was on a turlough system. Basically it is a watercourse or courses in a limestone area where land floods and empties on a regular basis without really following the laws of gravity. It is a phenomenon unique to the West of Ireland and although not properly understood, engineers and farmers have learnt to live with its vagaries for centuries and have always treated them with respect.
When turloughs are interfered with a great deal of thought needs applying to ensure future situations do not endanger third party or tenant property. Roscommon County Council applied a Bond for satisfactory completion and proper drainage of the land involved and not a large Bond considering the scale of things although according to the local press they are trying to hide behind its creation. Two years ago when the development started the old men of the town with no qualifications from either National School or University were shaking their heads when they realized what was happening. “He is in for big trouble” was the consensus. Yet work continued without the drainage scheme being applied. It was more important to acheive completion of the properties than completion of the ancillary drainage works. Greed came before the fall. The land at the rear of these new houses and houses that had been there for years, which are neither close to river or lake started to fill up and formed a lake rivalling Loch Ce itself. The turlough finding itself disturbed just moved its position slightly, so that land that had been historically water free became flooded. Houses, barns, sheds, gardens and septic tanks and property of all descriptions went under water and lives of old people were put at risk. All down to arrogance, greed and stupidity in thinking the problem could be ignored.
Now there is an argument that in the hard nosed, shortcutting world of business this kind of thing is the norm and certainly the cannibalistic atitude of the Dublin developers have tended to concur and that best practice is something dreamed up by Tiger Woods, but this very reason is why regulation and proper control by local authorities is in place. The county council is the arbiter of right and wrong in the establishment of correct construction procedures and in this case has let itself down very badly and I hope they are accountable.
Every man has his price they say and reminders of local authority malpractice and bad behaviour are scattered about Ireland like confetti at a wedding. We need to rid ourselves of this backsliding Fianna Fail comedy show and vote in a rainbow cabinet with Margaret Thatcher as leader, ably assisted by Judge Jeffries, Albert Pierrepoint, Robin Hood, Ned Kelly, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne and General Patton. This cabinet given a sufficient mandate would soon clean up the greasy pole living we poor citizens have to endure whilst navigating our way between birth and death. We will get no help from the Catholic Church who in these watery times are stil trying to pull their elongated sexual organs from a hole in what they thought was a dyke.
The photograph below shows Albert Pierrepoint begining to clean the greasy pole.