Visit to Bandon
For the second time in one month, the Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, the Right Reverend Dr Paul Colton, set off yesterday, New Year’s Eve, to visit communities in the Diocese and County of Cork uprooted by the floods of recent times. Such is the scale of disruption that in the one day it was only possible to make visits and to listen to people’s stories, as well as to try to be of some help, in just two of the places, among many, affected by the recent floods in the midst of continuing bad weather.
Accompanied by Mrs Susan Colton, and the rector of Bandon, the Reverend Denis MacCarthy, the Bishop visited Bandon, County Cork first and met business people whose premises had been affected already on 7th December last as well as in the flooding of previous years such as 2009. He spoke with local councillors, volunteers including scouts helping out in the centre of the town, and, most important, with local business people, their families, friends and volunteers. Afterwards he visited some whose homes had been flooded yet again. ‘Some people are finding it difficult to be as resolute this time round,’ said the Bishop, ‘I find many are more fragile, exhausted and exasperated to say the least. I met one man who had spent the previous 36 hours on his premises trying to save his livelihood. I met another who has lost everything now, twice. At the same time there is enormous community spirit, solidarity and mutual help and volunteering.’
Midleton College Opens Dorms in Holiday Period to Accommodate People
Yesterday afternoon, the Bishop and Mrs Colton travelled to the east of the Diocese to the town of Midleton where there had also been terrible flooding and, on this occasion to meet the Fire Service and Civil Defence at Lauriston where the housing estate had been flooded. Speaking with one family whose entire home and garden was full of water he was shocked to hear that they had no where to go for the night. Other residents were being transported to and from their houses in inflatable boats. It became apparent that local hotels which had already been generous and hospitable were already full. Bishop Colton said: ‘There and then I telephoned Dr Edward Gash, the Principal of Midleton College which is nearby and where I chair the Board, and without hesitation we agreed that we should fire up the heating system and open the dorms to accommodate people who might need overnight accommodation. With the support of the Dean of Cloyne, the Very Reverend Alan Marley, and Mr Kevin Stanley, the Deputy Principal, arrangements were put in place at the College.
Call For a Renewed Coordinated National Effort to Prioritise Flood Defence Works
Bishop Colton said:
I am no expert in the scientific field associated with flooding, but I am well-placed, as a pastor, to see the effects of the human cost and fallout. People have been telling me their heart-breaking stories. Situations such as these in this county as well as elsewhere in the country really do require a renewed, determined and coordinated national effort to put in place as an immediate priority some of the long-awaited and long-promised solutions. As we approach a General Election in due course this cannot be the stuff of party political point scoring or election promises; something needs to be done as soon as possible and by everyone working together for the common good.
Bishop Colton said that he had identified some immediately grave situations that require urgent emergency funding. ‘I don’t mean in weeks to come,’ he said ‘but even yesterday, it was necessary to make sure that people had money for food yesterday and today, as well as shelter and accommodation last night and tonight. I have been working on this, with support, throughout today.’
He said ‘In consultation with the clergy and lay leadership in this Diocese, I have made direct appeal to well-disposed individuals for financial support, and I have asked that special collections take place at all church services in these coming days, particularly on Sunday, 3rd January and Sunday, 10th January, throughout the Diocese.’