Our inland waterways are host to a myriad of user communities, and, as Minister, I need to be mindful of all of their needs. As does Waterways Ireland.
Waterways Ireland continues to work closely with boat owners using the canals, adjacent land owners, representative groups and committees. Meetings are held with the key stakeholder interest groups, the Royal Canal Amenity Group, Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) and the Heritage Boat Association (HBA).
In addition, Waterways Ireland works alongside the Friends of the Grand Canal and Royal Canal Clean-Up Group in Dublin and the newly established Grand Canal Dock Group, which, like many of the communities throughout the waterways, support the maintenance and operation of the canals.
Waterways Ireland staff meet canal users on a daily basis and provide a wide range of services as well as managing boat use on the canals in accordance with the 1988 Canal Bye-laws. In this regard, Waterways Ireland continues to concentrate on boats which consistently remain in breach of the Bye-laws. Where a boat owner fails to respond to requests to comply, after notification by letters, telephone calls and formal notice, a programme of boat removal continues.
In Grand Canal Dock, where boat owners have refused to move and are seeking to permanently reside on their vessels in breach of the Bye-laws, regulation of use of these prime location berths is being taken forward under the 1988 Canal Bye-laws to protect these public amenities. A group of Heritage Boat Association vessels are using the newly secured and serviced moorings in Grand Canal Outer Dock over the winter of 2017/18, before moving to Athlone in September 2018 for the World Canal Conference, which is once again to be held in Ireland (last hosted here in 2002).