CORK cannot wait any longer for flood relief - but the right solution has to be found.
That is according to Kevin 'Boxer' Moran, the junior minister at the OPW, which has the responsibility for Cork city's multi-million euro flood defences.
The junior minister visited Cork on a 'fact finding' mission yesterday. He will carry out similar visits to Kerry, Sligo, Mayo and Athlone in the coming weeks.
The proposed €140 million investment in Cork aims to protect 2,100 city centre properties from future flood events.
Several high profile floods in recent years have caused hundreds of millions of euro worth of damage to city businesses and homes.
Mr Moran said, "Cork has waited long enough. We have to put our best foot forward. We have to get it right, but we also have to move it forward."
The junior minister met with representatives from Cork Chamber of Commerce, Cork's business community, Cork City Council, Arup and the Save Cork City group, which has raised concerns about the current plans.
He said, "Everybody is on the same page: we all want to protect Cork.
I went off on my own and businesses kept asking the same question - when are we going to get to work."
Locally, there is still significant opposition to the current OPW proposals.
Save Cork City has called for the development of a tidal barrier downstream which, it says, will eliminate the need for high quay walls.
However, Arup Engineers working on behalf of the OPW claim that this would cost 'at least €500 million.'
While he would not be drawn on specific alternatives, Mr Moran confirmed that all submissions to the process will be looked at further.
"There are still options like the tidal barrier," he said.
"Everything that has been submitted will be looked at further. Let me be clear - we have to do this for the people of Cork. How many businesses have closed because they were flooded? How many more have to be flooded?"
He criticised 'misinformation and scaremongering' that has dominated the debate on the defences so far.
"There is some wrong information out there in the public and we have to correct that. People are afraid that the city will be cut off, but I am only 5 ft 3 and many of the walls don't even come up to my waist.
"I understand that heritage has to be taken into account - and it will be. This is not going to be as disruptive as some people have feared."
Mr Moran also visited flood schemes underway in Bandon and Skibbereen.