In July 2007, the North South Ministerial Council agreed to a proposal to restore a 13km section of the Ulster Canal from Upper Lough Erne to Clones. This project is important for the border region with potential to stimulate economic activity, giving a much needed boost to job creation and with the growth in water based tourism helping to attract significant numbers of visitors to the area. This is increasingly significant in the context of Brexit.
Government approval for Phase 1 of this project, to restore a 2.5 km stretch of the Ulster Canal from Upper Lough Erne in County Fermanagh to the International Scout Centre at Castle Saunderson near Belturbet in Co. Cavan, was secured in February 2015.
The works to complete this first phase were concluded earlier this year. A new 250m bypass canal and new road bridge to provide navigation around the existing road bridge serving Derrykerrib Island, which had insufficient head height for navigation, have now been constructed. Installation of moorings at Castlesaunderson as a destination for boats using the newly opened navigation from the Erne to Castlesaunderson will be completed in 2019.
Funding of €260,000 has been allocated towards the restoration of the Ulster Canal in 2019. Waterways Ireland anticipates expenditure of €160,000 to complete payment for works at Derrykerrib and €100,000 for construction works for Castlesaunderson public moorings.
In May 2018, the Government approved Phase 2, the development the amenity of a 13km section of the Ulster Canal from Upper Lough Erne to Clones - with the first element being a water amenity in Clones, and re-committed to developing this cross-border stretch under the Project Ireland 2040 plan, in the category of Investing in our Culture, Language and Heritage.
Further funding of €325,000 was allocated under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund for this second phase of development to develop the Clones Terminal, along the original route of the Ulster Canal.