Farmers around Lough Funshinagh in Co Roscommon are angry that essential flood relief works have been halted as a result of a court action.
Last month, a court action taken by Friends of the Irish Environment against Roscommon County Council resulted in the works being halted until the relevant environmental impact assessments for the works were carried out.
The pause in the works has outraged local farmers.
Laurence Fallon, a local councillor and farmer, said between 1,300ac and 1,400ac of land is underwater now.
“It’s a huge economic loss to the farmers around here, but the biggest losers are the ones that have been evicted and the ones that will be evicted this year out of their homes. It’s frightening the living daylights out of everybody.
“I’m outraged by what has happened for a whole number of reasons. First of all, we were trying to put in an overflow pipe, just to take some water out of the lake to protect some families from flooding. This was an emergency action.
I continue to lose a number of hectares each year
“We’re farming here since the early 1700s. At one level to see the environment around it and all the trees and shrubs planted by your father and your grandfather all now dead because of the flooding … it’s horrendous on the mind, there’s no doubt about that.
“But the economic loss means that every year I have to rent out three or four extra hectares of land and there is no end to it, because this lake will have to rise another 15ft before it will find its natural level and then flow into Lough Ree.
“I continue to lose a number of hectares each year and at the end I expect to have 7ha left when it finds it natural level.”
Padraig Beattie is a sheep farmer and up to 6ac of his land is submerged.
“The land isn’t the problem, it’s the yard. Last year, only for we were pumping across the road, the yard and the house would have flooded. If you lose your yard you’ve to get rid of some of your stock. A neighbour over the road lost his shed and he had to sell some of his stock. He had another shed up the road, but I don’t have that option.”
He said that recent court action taking to halt the flood relief works was “stupid”.
“You have an environmental crowd objecting to an overflow pipe to save an SAC. Because the SAC is destroyed. It will come to a stage very shortly where it will be irreparable.”
Edward J Beattie has farmed in Rahara all of his life.
Between 10ac and 15ac are flooded and part of his land was covered in floodwaters all winter, something he said has never happened before.
Last February, he had to sell ewes as his shed was flooded and he got a loan of a shed from a neighbour for his cattle.
His neighbour John Beattie has been farming for 50 years.
“I had two submersible pumps going all the winter trying to keep the water out of the slatted shed, the cattle shed, at our own expense.”
He said it was too bad that the flood relief works had to be brought to a halt.
“It was absolutely essential work that was being done.”
Connacht IFA chair Pat Murphy said he has asked Friends of the Irish Environment to visit Lough Funshinagh SAC to see the damage that has been done to the land and to the environment and to the people as a result of the flooding.
“It’s important they see the effects it’s having on the people,” he said.