By Kieran O’Mahony
DR Paul Colton, Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, has stressed that he never criticised the hard and voluntary work of the people of West Cork after the second bout of recent flooding.
‘I never used the ‘criticise’ word which has annoyed me about some of the media,’ Bishop Colton told The Southern Star.
‘I was very careful to say that I was not criticising the hard work that was being done by people and volunteers. But there were people falling between the cracks after the floods. Also, it might be good in the future to have someone stationed locally in the community who is obviously and clearly in charge, such as a mobile response unit. It’s not to criticise, but to learn from what happened.’
Bishop Colton has also launched a flood fund appeal which he is organising through the Diocesan website.
‘I was trying to motivate the people of my own parishes to respond financially and some of them have been very generous. If they want to donate, they can check the PayPal button on our site (www.ireland.anglican.org). It’s about getting the money out to those that need it immediately. We don’t want to fall victim to the same thing where it takes too long for the money to process,’ added Bishop Colton.
He visited Bandon once again last week following the latest floods and met with some of the town’s traders who were faced with a second clean-up within a month.
‘This time I found the people much more fragile. They’ve had the high of a good Christmas trade, and then this was like pulling the rug from under them. I was speaking to a man in early December who said that if it happens again then he would just turn the key on the business. And it has happened again.’
‘I do think we have to fine-hone these things and learn from them as they’re going to happen again, and we’ve got to work together,’ added Bishop Colton.
After the Bishop’s statements in several media recently, Cork County Council issued a statement, saying it had ‘noted’ the comments.
‘While it is unclear as to whether those comments were directed at national or local responses, the chief executive of the [County] Council commented as follows in this regard. “While I would recognise that Bishop Colton’s comments have been made in good faith, it is regrettable that the particular instance of one family which was housed temporarily in Midleton College was not made known to the Council as we could have ensured that contact was made with the relevant agency which provides humanitarian assistance in such situations”.’
The Council’s statement added that an analysis of the emergency calls received showed the widespread nature of the impacts throughout the county which ‘placed significant demands on the Council’s resources’.
‘The Council’s Bandon Flood Early Warning System provided advance warning of flooding in Bandon town. The early warning system in Skibbereen and liaison with the local flood relief committee minimised flooding in the town. In view of the fact that we continue through the winter season, we would remind the public that advice on winter weather preparedness in available on our website, www.corkcoco.ie,’ the statement said.
‘The Council is the primary response agency for flooding events in the county and is supported in this role by An Garda Siochana and the HSE,’ it said.