Ciaran Cannon TD is a member of Dail Eireann and a former Councillor, Senator and Minister of State at the Department of Education and Skills. Ciaran has a passion for innovation in education and has been at the heart of the reform of Ireland’s further education sector culminating in the publication of Ireland’s first ever Further Education and Training Strategy in 2014. He is also a strong advocate for the use of technology in education and in 2013 he founded EXCITED – The Digital Learning Movement. In 2013, along with tech entrepreneur Sean O’Sullivan, Ciaran launched Mathletes, the world’s first ever online maths competition for schools on the Khan Academy platform. Following the launch of Mathletes, Ireland saw the number of its Khan Academy users grow from 4,000 to 26,000 and the Mathletes concept has now been adopted by the Khan Academy in the US. He has also worked with schools across South Galway in developing superb new facilties for our children. Ciaran is also the founder of The Village Theatre, an experienced musician, an award winning songwriter, and an avid cyclist.
What has your involvement to date been in the flooding crisis in South Galway?
My involvement has been at both national and local level. At national level I have worked with my colleague Minister Simon Harris to secure €6m in investment for the Dunkellin/Aggard Flood Relief Project which is key to unlocking the flooding problem for a large part of South Galway. This is the first time in the history of the state that such a funding commitment has been made to the Dunkellin. Secondly I worked with Mattie Hanlon and Cllr. Joe Byrne in securing a commitment of €430,000 for the Kiltiernan/Ballinderreen Flood Relief Project. These two investments are the beginning of my ambitions to solve South Galway’s flooding problem once and for all.
At local level throughout the whole of December and January, I stood shoulder to shoulder with local farmers and homeowners when they need support and intervention on their behalf at both local and national level. Cllr. Joe Byrne and I worked hard to make the case for major excavation works at Dunguaire and Cahermore and when those works were carried out they saved many homes from further devastation. At Labane, we installed at flood wall and large pumps to save four homes and across the whole of South Galway we supported families with sandbags, animal fodder deliveries and any other help they needed. In short we were there when people needed us, night and day.
Finally I asked An Taoiseach to visit South Galway and he spent eight hours there meeting home and landowners whose lives had been devastated. I am convinced that this visit will be central to securing even more investment in flood relief for our area.
What do you see as the key issues that affect flooding in South Galway?
The main contributors to the flooding problem are;
- Excessive and rapid runoff from the Sliabh Aughty Mountains.
- The current inability to get water from Coole/Kiltartan to the sea and from Kiltiernan/Ballinderreen to the sea.
- The current lack of capacity in the Dunkellin to take additional water from upstream locations.
- The large number of swallow holes that are not functioning properly.
If elected, how do you intend to solve flooding in South Galway?
I will continue to prioritise this issue at national level and will push hard for further investment.
We need flood attenuation measures to retain water on the mountains longer so that it doesn’t run off rapidly to low lying areas. OPW need to talk to Coillte about horizontal drainage instead of vertical.
We need a series of channels to link turloughs in this area to cater for an overflow only. The three channels required are from Coole-Ballinastague, Caherglissaun Lake-Cahermore and finally from Cahermore to sea at Kinvara. The Taoiseach is personally supporting the development of these channels and I’m confident that all of them will be delivered within the next year. In Cahermore I want to thank Tommy Glynn and Adrian and Lisa Glynn for allowing the excavation of a large channel to the rear of their home. Thanks also to Liam Gantley for his work carried out with great expertise and care. Joe Byrne and I are now working to make that channel in the area of Cahermore permanent. We need to go a little deeper to ensure that it functions properly and we also need to consult with all of the landowners between Cahermore and Dunguaire as some minor works may be needed to ensure that water flows freely to the sea when it reaches a certain level at Cahermore. Engaging regularly with all landowners and keeping them informed is critical to the success of this project.
Critical to the proper drainage of this area is the success of the Dunkellin/Aggard project. There is a design in place for a deepening of the stream which runs from Ballyglass into the Aggard, but it includes works which are excessive and were ruled out on a cost benefit analysis. Joe Byrne has done some great work on re-assessing the levels along this stream and is now of the opinion it would take less than one week’s work with a digger. We now intend to submit an application for a Minor Flood Relief Project so that the people of this area won’t be flooded again and Ballyglass NS won’t be cut off from the local community.
Mattie Hanlon’s flood relief project for this area is now funded to the tune of €430,000 and planning permission for the project is due to to be lodged soon. This project will help to solve the flooding around Kiltiernan School and the new M18.. Also helps Arran, Ballyclough and Blake Manor Nursing Home, Tooreen/Pollough.
Rinerush, Grannagh, Peterswell
We need a multi-faceted solution in this area. It should include a major cleaning of the swallow hole where the Cloon River undergrounds. There are also 15 other swallow holes in the area that need to be cleaned and work is already underway to make the case for this project. We also need to explore the diversion of the Owenshree River to Aggard, but that can only happen after the Dunkellin Flood Relief Project is delivered.
Finally can I say David that your work has been a powerful aid to both Joe and I in making the case for investment in flood relief for South Galway. You are a new breed of digital community activist and the positive impact you are making is most welcome.