Northern Ireland news

Infrastructure Minister John O'Dowd pledges to prioritise flood measures

Greta Mooney, whose home was flooded, was one of a number of residents who met Infrastructure Minister John O'Dowd during his visit to Eglinton.
Seamus McKinney

INFRASTRUCTURE Minister John O'Dowd has pledged to expedite long term flood alleviation measures in the north west following severe flooding.

Mr O'Dowd was speaking during a visit to the area yesterday, follow the weekend's devastating floods in Derry, Eglinton, Drumahoe and Strabane.

Up to 300 applications for help have been lodged after torrential rain caused serious flooding on Saturday.

It subsequently emerged that long term flood alleviation measures promised after serious floods in 2017 have not yet been completed. A number of residents refused to meet Mr O'Dowd because of the failure to complete promised flood measures. However, the infrastructure minister defended his department's response. He said officials were only given a 20-minute warning about the problem.

“My department remained on full alert working with multi-agency partners over the weekend to protect properties through the distribution of over 8,000 sandbags and the maintenance of critical drainage infrastructure.

“In addition, by working alongside multi-agency partners in the Regional Community Resilience Group, my staff in the department's roads and rivers team do all they can to support community resilience efforts during severe weather events,” he said.

Mr O'Dowd acknowledged the need for longer term solutions as quickly as possible. He said his department was “taking forward” a number of flood alleviation schemes across the north, with three specific proposals for Drumahoe, Eglinton and Derry.

“Ground investigation works have already been completed at Eglinton and Drumahoe which will aid design development and will be used to determine the type of defence that can be constructed at each location,” he said.

Work has started on a draft strategic drainage integrated plan for Derry city. Mr O'Dowd also gave a commitment to find a short term solution for flooding problems at Ballycolman in Strabane.

“As our weather continues to become more unpredictable, I would urge everyone to be mindful of weather warnings and watch carefully on news bulletins and social media for regular updates. Please do not take any unnecessary risks in bad weather,” the minister said.

Northern Ireland news