Local Papers Commentary
Unacceptable level of flooding in south Mayo
COMMUNITIES in south Mayo have been totally cut off due to severe flooding for 790 days in the past eighteen years. This dramatic statistic came to light last Monday when members of the Ballinrobe Electoral Area of Mayo County Council discussed a motion that called on the authority to carry out remedial works in the affected area at Ballinacarragh, Kilmaine. Councillor Patsy O’Brien, who brought the notice of motion, said the number of days that the area was flooded was equivalent to two and a quarter years. Cllr O’Brien said the draining of a turlough at Thomastown (between Kilmaine and Roundfort) was the most cost-effective method of curing the problem. However, the National Parks and Wildlife Service has requested that an Environmental Impact Survey be carried out before any drainage is carried out as they have expressed concerns about the ecological effects of such a course of action by the council. "Draining the turlough would involve running a drain for around 250m from the turlough to the Corrib. It’s hard to see how such a drain would tamper with any ecology.
Turlough ecology is totally dependent on intermittent flooding. A ‘drained’, dry Turlough is no longer a Turlough. Most Turloughs are listed as conservation areas because they are a unique ecological feature of not just the Irish landscape but also on a wider European scale. Thus, they should be respected as such - just as stone circles, The Hill of Tara, an old oak tree or an old cathedral all deserve our respect and protection.
I have a sneaking feeling that the root cause of the problem here is people being blind to the phrase ‘liable to flooding’ on the old maps when they buy a site or house. A Section 4 motion providing planning permission has no effect on the level of water or the amount of rainfall falling on the karst limestone of Kilmaine where most of the water runs in underground rivers. It's highly unlikely in any case that the drain around the Turlough as described would even work. Surface drainage can only do so much as they discovered in Gort a number of years ago. Supposedly silage plastic had blocked up the underground river channels leading to Galway Bay aggravating the flooding behind it by slowing down the flow of water. But in reality it was most likely just that there was a hell of a lot of rain backing up from the narrowest point of the underground channel. When it rains very heavily it floods - simple. People were then compensated in the Gort case for building their houses in stupid places – i.e. where the old maps clearly stated ‘Liable to Flood’. (Even when they moved they wanted to keep the old houses and sell them on to the next generation of suckers that can’t read maps.)
The solution to being cut off by flooding is probably a lot simpler. Remember the houses that were cut off a number of years ago at Brize on the road to Claremorris from Castlebar? They were freed up by simply building up the level of the main road and access driveways by a few of feet. They haven’t been cut off since then.
Anger at proposed closure of Cystic Fibrosis unit in Mayo
CYSTIC Fibrosis sufferers in Mayo will soon be forced to travel outside of the county for treatment - if the recommendations of a new report on the life-threatening condition are implemented. The independent report on the treatment of Cystic Fibrosis in Ireland, which was compiled by UK consultant Dr Ronnie Pollock, recommends - among other things - the closure of the CF unit at Mayo General Hospital, with care for Mayo patients to be provided instead at a specialist centre in Galway. The report has provoked an angry reaction within the county, both among those involved in the treatment of the condition and among the parents of the county’s 32 sufferers, who range in age from under one year to mid-thirties. Speaking to The Mayo News, Mayo General Hospital’s Consultant Paediatrician, Dr Michael O’Neill, expressed dismay at the proposal to close down what is recognised as one of the most progressive CF units in the country. "If this goes through it will mean the end of immediacy of access for CF sufferers here in Mayo. We provide a good service here in Castlebar and that will be lost in the bigger picture. Dr Pollock never even visited us here in Castlebar so he doesn’t even know what we do.
Cystic Fibrosis sufferers now live to a ripe old age thanks to modern treatments. Coming to terms with a young child that suffers from CF is a dreadful ordeal. At least here in Castlebar the treatment is available locally. To have to trek up and down to Galway on a daily basis to see your child whenever they are hospitalised (which can be quite often for CF patients) is a terrible additional burden. Even more so for families who live in Achill or Bemullet where the trek is long enough already without adding another 50 miles to the one-way distance.
Ballina Chamber moves on radon concerns
BALLINA Chamber of Commerce has moved to address concerns surrounding exposure to high levels of radon gas in workplaces in the town. Acknowledging that Ballina is located in a ‘high radon area’, the Chamber of Commerce will hold a seminar on health and safety in the workplace on Tuesday night next, February 22, at the Ridge Pool Hotel. This is the first of a series of information seminars, entitled ‘Business After Hours’. Hugh Synnott of the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland will focus on the increasing concerns surrounding the subject of radon in the workplace on Tuesday next. In addition, staff from the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland will be in the Ballina area until February 24 as part of a wider publicity campaign on radon in the area, and will be available to meet with employers and employees in the region.
Radon is serious long-term health hazard. If you haven’t had your house tested you should do so. The RPII will send you a couple of little canisters of film that you leave in a room for a number of months. You then send it back to them and they examine it under a microscope and identify the marks left by the radioactive decay of Radon and tell you how much your exposure is likely to be and whether you need to improve your ventilation or not. It’s nowhere near as serious as someone smoking in the house but at the same time if you have high radon levels then there’s a risk of contracting lung cancer which you should not be taking. Check out www.rpii.ie/radon for more info.
© Copyright 2006 by the author(s)/photographer(s) and www.castlebar.ie
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