Waterways Ireland is the largest of the six North-South Implementation Bodies established under the British-Irish Agreement of December 1999. It is responsible for the management, maintenance, development and restoration of the inland navigable waterway system throughout the island, principally for recreational purposes.
Waterways Ireland has responsibility for approximately 1,000 km of navigable waterways comprising of the Shannon-Erne Waterway, the Shannon Navigation, the Barrow Navigation, the Grand Canal, the Royal Canal, the Erne system and the Lower Bann Navigation. In 2007, Waterways Ireland’s remit was extended by the North-South Ministerial Council to include responsibility for the restoration of the Ulster Canal between Clones and Upper Lough Erne.
While the Waterways Ireland 2013 business plan and budget is the subject of ongoing discussions with the co-sponsoring Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure in Northern Ireland and will require formal approval by the North-South Ministerial Council, I have provided an indicative funding allocation of €4.071 million to Waterways Ireland for capital projects in this jurisdiction in the coming year. This will facilitate capital works by Waterways Ireland in developing, restoring and improving infrastructure for water based and activity recreation and tourism, consolidating facilitates and improving access to the waterways across the navigations.
I am advised that the Waterways Ireland draft 2013 business plan has a development schedule providing for 1354 m of additional moorings across the navigations. Works planned within this jurisdiction include a range of major projects such as upgrading Bagenalstown Lock on the Barrow; provision of a slipway and stabilisation of the dock walls at Grand Canal Dock, dredging the Grand Canal; development of houseboat facilities at Lowtown and Sallins; lifting the bridge at Tullamore depot; bridge upgrades, works on weirs and locks on the Shannon; and commencement of work on the Belturbet Service Block on the Shannon Erne and purchase of plant and machinery.
Waterways Ireland continues to work within the funding available to continue to improve facilities across the waterways network.