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‘Compliance Programme’ Results in Big Jump in Boat Removals from Ireland’s Canals in 2020

8th October 2021
Minister of State for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan
Minister of State for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan confirmed that 45 vessels were removed from the canals and 17 from the Shannon Navigation and Shannon-Erne Waterways in 2020

Boat removals from Ireland’s canals jumped in 2020 — with the total for the year at 150% of the previous four years combined.

The figures were revealed by Minister of State for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan in his response to a Dáil question from Dun Laoghaire TD Cormac Devlin requesting a breakdown of the number of boats removed from rivers, canals and inland waterways between 2016 and 2020.

Across the canals network (and excluding the Shannon Navigation and Shannon-Erne Waterway) under the jurisdiction of Waterways Ireland, a total of 45 boats deemed to be in breach of bye-laws were removed in 2020.

This compares to just seven the previous year, 17 in 2018, none in 2017 and seven in 2016 — a total of 31 in the four years leading to 2020.

On the Shannon Navigation and Shannon-Erne Waterway, the figures over the last three years were more consistent, with 17 removals in 2020, 12 in 2019 and 15 in 2018. There were no removals on these waterways in 2017 or 2016.

Minister Noonan noted that the rise in removals on the canals last year can be credited to a compliance programme initiated by Waterways Ireland “to remove abandoned, sunken and non-compliant boats, vessels and structures from the canals network”.

He added: “This programme by the agency has resulted in improved water quality, improved compliance, and removed many unsightly boats, vessels and structures from the waterways.”

The Canals Bye Laws 1988 and the Shannon Navigation Bye Laws 1992 provide Waterways Ireland with the powers to remove boats, vessels and other structures that are in breach of the bye-laws.

As previously reported on Afloat.ie, a number of live-aboard barge owners on the Grand Canal feared losing their homes under last year’s removal drive.

But they were spared at the 11th hour when Minister Noonan stepped in to promise engagement with Waterways Ireland on a long-term solution.

Published in Inland Waterways
MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy

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MacDara Conroy is a contributor covering all things on the water, from boating and wildlife to science and business

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