Waterways Ireland is responsible for the management, maintenance, development and restoration of 1,000 km of the inland navigable waterway system throughout the island - principally for recreational purposes, including the lower Bann navigation, Erne system, Shannon-Erne waterway, Shannon navigation, Grand Canal, Royal Canal and Barrow navigation.
Waterways Ireland is co-funded by my Department and the Department for Infrastructure in Northern Ireland. The current expenditure of the body is funded 85% by my Department and 15% by the Department for Infrastructure, which reflects the distribution of the navigable waterways in each jurisdiction. Capital expenditure is funded 100% in the jurisdiction in which the capital works are carried out. In addition, development work has been sustained through attracting third part investment from a wide range of sources.
Waterways Ireland's work programmes are critical to providing a safe and high-quality recreational environment for the public while also preserving the industrial and environmental heritage of the waterways for future generations. These challenges must be balanced with its objective of increasing recreational activity across all our waterways.
The Estimates for 2019 have provided for an allocation of €25.117 million for Waterways Ireland, comprising €20.737 million in current funding and €4.38 million in capital funding. This is an overall increase of €1 million on the original 2018 allocation with capital funding increased by €800,000. Additional funding from Waterways Ireland in 2019 is not contemplated by the Estimates process and it will, like all other agencies under my remit, need to live within its capital allocation.
Additional information not given on the floor of the House
As Minister, I have many competing and compelling requests for funding in 2020. I am acutely aware of the value of our inland waterways' amenity and the excellent work that Waterways Ireland carries out. Of particular importance is the strong community and business outreach and partnership policy that the organisation has implemented to engage with and deliver services for communities adjacent to the waterways to create social, recreational, health and economic benefits. The inland waterways are also an intrinsic part of the island's tourism attractions and Waterways Ireland plays a key role in their marketing and promotion.