Alliance East Belfast representatives to meet minister over flooding

A delegation of Alliance East Belfast representatives are to meet Rivers Minister Michelle O’Neill MLA today (Wednesday) to discuss recent flooding in their constituency.

Naomi Long MP, Chris Lyttle MLA and Judith Cochrane MLA have already met with local residents and business owners affected by the flooding, many of whom have suffered repeat incidents over a number of years. They will meet with the Minister to discuss the role of the Rivers Agency in addressing concerns and have also requested a similar meeting with Regional Development Minister Danny Kennedy to raise matters relevant to his department.

Naomi Long said in recent years East Belfast had suffered badly from repeat flooding.

“We hope to use this meeting to raise many concerns on behalf of local residents with the Minister, who has lead responsibility on river flooding issues.

“We recognise the weather last month was extreme but the government response has fallen short of what was promised to residents after previous incidents and some key lessons would appear not to have been learnt. The Floodline fiasco to some degree eclipsed deeper issues, such as problems with providing sandbags, coordination of flood response between the agencies and the ongoing issue with routine maintenance, which may not prevent flooding but could reduce its severity.

“We also want to raise the issue of river improvement works, as there are a number of locations where rivers have broken their banks, repeatedly damaging homes and businesses, but flood protection or alleviation works are planned.”

Chris Lyttle MLA said the delegation would be seeking a detailed update on how and when planned flood alleviation schemes were being resourced and delivered.

“There are other areas that have been repeatedly affected by river-related flooding and we will work to ensure that they also receive the help they need from the minister.

“We are committed to working on behalf of residents and business owners with the relevant government departments and agencies to ensure that ongoing flooding issues in East Belfast are addressed to deliver both an adequate emergency response and infrastructure improvements. People who have been flooded repeatedly need to see a more co-ordinated response from all departments to specific problems rather than the disjointed approach which currently persists.”

Judith Cochrane MLA said the representatives had seen first-hand the chaos the floods had brought to residents in East Belfast.

“We have been witness to the practical disruption to livelihoods the flooding has caused, as well as the financial consequences that came with it.

“We dealt with so many people through our office, meeting residents and making phonecalls on their behalf, that it has made us determined to help do what we can to resolve this issue and ensure it doesn’t happen again.”


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