Two attendees of the 'flood walk' organised by Roscommon Macra na Feirme, at the farm of Laurence and Michael Fallon, alongside Lough Funshinagh, on Friday, September 10.

Flood walk showed looming crisis at Lough Funshinagh, says farming body

Macra na Feirme said a 'flood walk' which was recently organised at Lough Funshinagh by its Roscommon branch showed the need for urgent action to prevent the flooding crisis in the area from worsening.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Macra said the flooding affecting people in Ballagh, Rahara, Lisfelim and Ardmullen was also having a significant impact on the environment, in a location designated as a special area of conservation.

Last month, work on a flood relief pipeline which had been initiated by Roscommon County Council was forced to stop on foot of a court action taken by the Friends of the Irish Environment group.

"Farmers have been farming beside the lake for years working with the land to promote biodiversity and practising climate friendly farming," said the Macra na Feirme statement.

"The turlough which has almost trebled in size over the past number of years, now has over 1,300 acres of land submerged, which is an additional 800 acres more than it historically covered at this time of year.

"Since 2015, the area under water has increased with levels in the turlough currently at the same height as they were on December 12, 2020."

The flood walk organised by Macra's Roscommon branch took place on Friday, September 10, at the farm of Laurence and Michael Fallon, on the shores of Lough Funshinagh.

"The large crowd attending the walk heard of the threat of the expanding turlough to farmland, houses and the environment," said the group.

"Attendees saw hedgerows that have been completely destroyed by the rising waters, with a huge loss of habitat for birds and insects. A forest planted some decades ago, to sequester and store carbon, is wilting and dying due to submerged roots.

"Grassland that was home to over 100 travelling hooper swans is completely submerged, with the swans not returning to lands they had visited for generations."

Macra na Feirme's National President, John Keane, said: "The rising floodwaters will only continue to destroy habitats and carbon stores while reversing generations of progress and development by the farmers affected."

The statement concluded by saying residents and farmers needed to see urgent action to prevent the crisis from worsening and leading to an environmental and humanitarian emergency.

"The government needs to intervene now to resolve this issue for the benefit of both the people and the environment. Standing by and allowing the crisis to worsen is no longer a tolerable option for those living on the shores of the turlough," added Mr Keane.