The floods that have scourged the west of Ireland for more than two weeks have finally hit the east coast, with the river Liffey bursting its banks in Kildare and Dublin at the weekend.

The floods have already cost nearly $1.5billion worth of damage.

Between three and five inches of rain fell in Kildare last night. Houses and three nursing homes were evacuated. Many roads became impassible as rainwater clogged them up.

The Waterways housing estate in Sallins had to be evacuated on Sunday when it became badly flooded. Officials discharged water from the Leixlip Dam yesterday as a precautionary measure.

The river Liffey also burst its banks at Strawberry Beds in West Dublin. Fortunately no homes were affected and Dublin is expected to escape the worst of the flooding.

Sean Hogan, chairman of the Government’s Emergency Response Co-ordination Committee, said the "floodwaters will be coming down so one would be hopeful. I suspect the worst has past as long as the ESB continues to hold the water levels in the Wicklow mountains."

However the west of Ireland and the midlands were not so lucky. The flood levels remain high in Galway and show little sign of improvement. The water is still rising in Athlone and will take weeks to recede.

The Irish Farmers' Association vice president, Michael Silke, said "vested interests, namely the ESB and Waterways Ireland, wish to maintain the level of the Shannon's three major lakes, Allen, Ree and Derg, artificially high, and these bodies must now take direction from one agency which will seek to manage this river properly after years of neglect."

The region’s three members of the European Parliament (MEPs) flew across the area to see the damage inflicted by the floods. Silke criticized their decision to do so and insisted, "it is down on the ground they should be, to witness the human suffering."