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Bishop of Cork critical of government's response to flooding crisis

08 January 2016

Brian Lawless/pa

Firefighters cope with floodwaters: the streets of Bandon, Co. Cork, after Storm Frank

Firefighters cope with floodwaters: the streets of Bandon, Co. Cork, after Storm Frank

THE Church of Ireland Bishop of Cork, Cloyne & Ross, Dr Paul Colton, has criticised the response of government agencies to the flooding crisis that hit parts of his united dioceses over the Christmas period. “In some cases, it was a modern-day example of ‘No room at the inn’ for families in isolated areas, who suddenly found themselves with nowhere to go when their homes were flooded,” he said on the national radio station, RTÉ, on Tuesday. “There is no one in charge of the emergency response to the recent floods, and a lack of overall co-ordination on the ground.”

Dr Colton also urged immediate financial relief. “There are some immediate situations of emergency need which just can’t wait for grant-aid forms to be filled out and processed,” he said.

He launched a flood-fund appeal to help people in Bandon and Midleton in Co. Cork, and praised those who were working on the front line, from the defence forces and council workers to clergy, parishes, and Scouts. But, he said, there seemed to be little co-ordination at national level.

“The response to this has, hugely, been about self-help and neighbourly help. Without it, there would have been people homeless and going hungry in recent days; but I think that kind of response is far too risky in this kind of situation. I know this flooding happened at an ‘awkward’ time, over the Christmas holidays, but we need to be able to respond to emergencies at ‘awkward’ times.

“I’ve heard of the National Co-ordination Group, and I am sure they are working away, but one would like to see the signs of it in local areas.”

A church-run secondary school at Midleton was used to house some of those displaced by the flooding; but, as it was due to reopen on Wednesday, the Bishop used his own funds, and raised more cash, to provide immediate accommodation for them. The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, attended a briefing with the National Co-ordination Group on Monday.

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