Enda Kenny defends handling of floods crisis as he tours Shannon basin
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has spent several hours getting first hand accounts of the devastation wreaked by floods following a series of winter storms.
Amid increasing criticism of his absence from the worst-hit regions, Mr Kenny toured inundated areas along the Shannon basin and further south in Co Cork from the air and on the back of a tractor.
And he defended the Government's handling of the crisis, dismissing criticism from Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein for not getting out on the ground earlier.
"I have had daily briefings from the co-ordination committee. I am in constant contact with the relevant ministers. There have been many visits by ministers," he said.
Levels on the Shannon have swollen again, this time on the back of Storm Frank, with reported rises of 13cm, 7cm and 11cm, in the upper, mid and lower catchments.
Mr Kenny first viewed the extent of the floods from the skies with the Air Corps before travelling to the Carrickobrien region just outside the town, one of the areas worst-hit since the first significant winter storm swept in from the Atlantic in mid-December.
A meeting is being arranged for next week with all state agencies involved in management of the Shannon catchment area expected to attend as the Government ramps up its responses to the ongoing flooding.
Mr Kenny said: "Clearly the countryside is saturated. There are thousands of locations where water has rested and has not drained away.
"Clearly there are very significant problems in some urban areas and there are serious problems in areas throughout the country where people are isolated."
Thousands of homes and businesses remain without electricity and phone and broadband lines in the wake of Storm Frank with both ESB Networks and the telecoms company eir warning of continued disruption.
Some of the worst affected areas were across the south and into the east of the country from Bandon and Macroom in Cork up to Enniscorthy in Wexford and on to Arklow in Wicklow.
A large fault struck Fermoy, Co Cork, in the morning, leaving about 1,200 people with no power.
ESB Networks said that after a series of winter storms swept in, over the last week its crews have restored supplies to 130,000 customers since December 27.
More than 100 properties, including homes, have been affected in the escalation of flooding, and the same number again has been put at risk from swollen rivers and loughs.
Scores of roads are closed or affected by floods around the country, with motorists urged to use AA Roadwatch for updates and planning their journeys.
Met Eireann had a yellow wind warning in place for many coastal counties in the south and west for several hours and has also advised of s howers or longer outbreaks of rain widespread across the country.
Some higher ground has been hit with wintry showers and thunderstorms b ut ice will also be a real danger in the next 24 hours with temperatures falling to plus-2 to minus-2 degrees Celsius overnight.
Elsewhere, southern parts of Munster have been warned to prepare for further flooding on New Year's Day and January 2, with the region to suffer the heaviest rainfalls in the coming day.