IN the week following his government's major cutbacks, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has demanded that millions of euro be spent by Dublin city council on flood protection measures in his own constituency.

The Sunday Tribune has learned that Ahern has written a detailed three-page letter to the council outlining in detail the various flood-relief measures he feels are absolutely necessary for the Drumcondra area.

As with all constituency matters, the Taoiseach has taken an extremely personal interest in the flooding problem, which saw large sections of Drumcondra and Whitehall flooded after the River Tolka burst its banks.

On Thursday night, 10 days ago, the Taoiseach conducted house-to-house visits in the worst areas, such as Botanic Avenue, offering his personal help to householders.

A spokesman for Ahern confirmed the Taoiseach had sent the letter, containing various suggestions "including dredging part of the River Tolka, and the heightening of walls".

"We're expecting a response to the proposals from the council next week."

Dublin City Council confirmed it had received the Taoiseach's letter, but declined to say how much his suggestions would cost.

"We are currently discussing the proposals with the Taoiseach, " a spokeswoman for the council said.

However The Sunday Tribune has learned that the cost of a full drainage scheme along the whole length of the Tolka may cost up to 100m.

According to sources in the Office of Public Works, which has responsibility for river drainage, a full flood alleviation scheme would cost over 100m.

"We have no exact figures, but large-scale flood relief schemes in built-up areas, which is the case for most of the Tolka's course through north Dublin, are extremely expensive. You have to have a cost-benefit analysis, and it could be that large-scale schemes are not feasible, and that smaller relief schemes, which would bring the most relief, would be the best option."

An interim report by a team of specialists carrying out a major three-year investigation into the flooding of the Tolka is expected next week and will propose a set of immediate alleviation measures which could be introduced to prevent the widespread flooding such as that caused by the Tolka 10 days ago.