By Kieran O’Mahony
FIANNA Fáil TD for Cork South West Margaret Murphy O’Mahony says she is ‘deeply concerned’ about the future of the Bandon Flood Relief Scheme and has called on Minister of State for the OPW Sean Canney to make a statement on the issue and to provide a reassurance that the scheme will be completed as scheduled.
‘The whole community is in despair as there is a real fear that the latest dispute between the contractor and the OPW could delay the scheme for another year or more. This simply cannot be allowed to happen, as people in the town are currently unable to get flood insurance and the possibility of further flooding events remains high unless the defence works are completed,’ said Deputy Murphy O’Mahony.
She added that what was most disappointing about this latest development is the fact that something similar happened a few years ago.
‘Almost two years of work were lost on the flood defence scheme a number of years back over a similar dispute. People presumed that a new dispute would not emerge as the OPW should have learnt from the issues raised during the first dispute. Unfortunately, it seems no foresight was given to the need to prevent a new dispute from emerging and now we are left in a situation where works on the scheme have been left in limbo. It’s simply astonishing and people deserve answers as to how this situation has arisen.’
‘Minister Canney needs to make a statement outlining what actions he is taking to resolve the current difficulties facing the project. The people of Bandon need to be given a firm assurance that every effort is being made to resolve this dispute and get the works back on track. Further delays to the scheme simply cannot be tolerated.’
Meanwhile, Deputy Jim Daly has said that Minister Canney has confirmed to him that he will not be making any public statement until the talks conclude, as he believes it would be a retrograde step.
‘For now my singular priority is to get the works back on track by agreeing a deal with the contractor that is allowable under public procurement law, without having to re-tender certain works. This is critical to progress works in the river this season,’ said Deputy Daly.
‘In my view it is important to keep sight of the notion that while talks are ongoing, a deal is possible. If the request by the contractor was not possible under public procurement law, the talks would have concluded long ago. We must all remain hopeful.’