Carmel Meegan, President of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) welcomed delegates to the IWAI National Council meeting in Tullamore on 8th confirmed that the proposed bye-laws do not put user requirements, local communities or tourism at the centre of the regulations. Delegates heard –
In general –
there are reports that boats present this time last year have now left the Canals – the IWAI says this is indicative of boaters' fears and a further future drop in navigation use
Waterways Ireland have suggested that the 1800 plus submissions delivered by IWAI - during the brief consultation period of only 21 days- are letters in support of the IWAI
Submission rather than viewing these as other individual submissions recognising the effort and concern held by wider communities
Waterways Ireland imposed restrictions never previously invoked on boats travelling by Canal to the Dublin Rally in 2014 – which is celebrating 40 years of community activity
the proposed toll €75 to travel between the Grand and Royal Canals is detrimental – the IWAI advises this is the now most expensive boat crossing in Europe
the Newcomen lifting bridge will open only 8 times this year, only 96 boats are permitted to undertake the Green & Silver route around the Grand and Royal Canals this season due to restrictions of use of the Newcomen lifting bridge, significantly curtailing the emerging 'Green & Silver' route – the IWAI advises this is a major miss for domestic and international boat tourism.
Concerns aired as to the Canals and Barrow as a tourism resource have included questions in the Seanad and the Dail; County Council input; national and local press articles; television and radio interviews; community websites; blogs and Facebook pages reflecting overall national concern.
Politically, this has grown to be a very big issue and is featuring highly as politicians face into local elections this summer. The IWAI have gained the interest of local, regional and national
politicians on this matter to date, and will present our position to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht in Leinster House on 25th
The boating community is not averse to appropriate management, facility provision, and access to waterways. But boats are key attractions, as the lifeblood of the navigations, and need to be welcomed.