FERMANAGH and Omagh District Councillors have backed a proposal from Independent councillor, Bernice Swift, to help alleviate flooding problems around Boho and Derrygonnelly.

Councillor Swift submitted a proposal to Drainage Council NI to ask it to review the frequency of when the watercourse is inspected for this unique area of the most problematic river in Northern Ireland, the Sillies River.

Currently, the criteria is to inspect it every six years, but Councillor Swifts wants this changed to every three years in an effort to help with the flow of the river.

She also asked for the current level of Lough Erne be reduced from 151 foot to 150 foot of capacity to maintain the high-rise problem impacting the Boho and Derrygonnelly area.

Officials from the Department for Infrastructure Rivers and Roads attended a meeting with Councillor Swift and representative farmers from Boho and the lower area of Derrygonnelly who still suffer ongoing flooding problems.

These problems are having an adverse impact on farmers’ land, livestock and their financial situation, for which they seek government department solutions.

Councillor Swift said: “At the beginning of the socially distanced meeting in one of the flooding hot-spots, I provided background to previous submissions made to Drainage NI in 2007 on an engineering solution to re-route the Sillies River to resolve the excess flooding problem.

“At the time, the then Agricultural Minister did not approve the proposal. Instead, much road-raising solutions did prevail.

“However, 13 years later, with the effects of climate change, farmers are noticing the need for greater, more frequent solutions ... they no longer want to be ignored.”

Boho farmer John Jones questioned if the current watercourse inspection situation was fit for purpose and, if not, said it needs to be changed.

He said: “Hundreds of acres of land are underwater in Boho and this is from the summer flood, meaning there’s an adverse, knock-on-impact on winter ,fodder preventing grass-cutting for winter livestock.

“Animals housed closely together create diseases which, in turn, becomes a terrible burden with vet bills and perhaps the loss of livestock if disease cannot be overcome.

“There’s severe, untold hardship created and with no compensation provided.”

Another farmer, Phillip Gallagher, whose land was completely covered by flooding, said there were many farmers in the area who also have opinions on the solutions needed.

He highlighted how his uncle has never witnessed water levels as high in 70 years as he saw this year, saying that winter fodder is now impossible, with summer flooding having devastated land, and preventing a second cut to plan for the feeding of livestock.

When raising the issues with Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Swift voiced concern over the lack of support from the Department of Environment, Agriculture and Rural Affairs, saying: “It is beyond astonishing and totally unacceptable. Farmers feel disenfranchised and need solutions.”