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The Lakelands and Inland Waterways World Pairs Angling Championships, Ireland’s most prestigious coarse angling event has begun, attracting over 100 of the best anglers from Ireland, Europe & beyond and bringing over €150,000 into the local economy.

The challenge of catching the natural wild fish so prolific in Ireland’s Lakelands, is one aspect of the Competition but the World Pairs has the added difficulty of doing so in partnership, with both angler's catches contributing to the overall weight for the daily and overall prizes. Run over 5 locations on both sides of the border over 5 days of competition the World Pairs is the ultimate in angling competitions!

The angling zone for this event is the one hour zone from Killadeas to the North on Lough Erne and Garadice on the Shannon-Erne Waterway in Leitrim in the South. The cross border nature of the event is an important feature of the competition for the sponsors Lakelands & Inland Waterways, the tourism brand owned by Fáilte Ireland and Waterways Ireland. The excellence of the angling venues is ideal for the event, but it is their close proximity (max 30 minutes drive to the peg from the draw location) which allows this partnership event to work.

Failte Ireland and Waterways Ireland continue to sponsor the World Pairs, providing the top prizes with further support from Fermanagh-Omagh District Council & Cavan County Council. The active support of DAERA Inland Fisheries and Inland Fisheries Ireland is essential as they have the expertise and resources to finding venues, prepare pegs, the bio-security measures and the stewarding for the events.

Sharon Lavin, Head of Marketing, Waterways Ireland, stated "the Lakeland & Inland Waterways World Pairs has shone a spotlight on the high quality and large quantity of wild fish in Ireland's Lakelands. The international anglers coming to the event don't just come for the World Pairs, they stay for over a week, in local accommodations and enjoy the hospitality of our local restaurants and bars, and many stay on for a 2nd week to further enjoy the angling the area has to offer, easily adding over €150,000 to the local economy"

The Top prize of €10k and second prize of €5k are at the top of a full range of prizes including the DAIWA Cup, an individual entry competition running inside the Pairs with a full entry payout providing cash for 5 peg sections, daily by county and a top ten overall topped up by a massive £8,500 in tackle vouchers from DAIWA Sports Ltd.

Published in Inland Waterways
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Sunny weather has arrived, but with it come some hidden dangers on waterways! Waterways Ireland has advised swimmers that operating docks, harbours and marinas are not appropriate areas for swimming and that those wishing take a dip in the Shannon should do so in the designated local Authority swim areas. Dock, harbours & marinas are busy with boats, barges and cruisers and it is near impossible for captains of these vessels to navigate safely when swimmers are in the water.

A Waterways Ireland spokeperson has stated that "swimming is prohibited in these areas for very good reason. Previously we have witnessed a couple of near misses in a number of different harbours right along the Shannon." She advised "those wishing to cool down in this hot balmy weather should go to the designated local authority bathing areas and the dangerous practice of swimming at marinas and harbours should cease immediately."

Waterways Ireland is raising this point as swimmers seem unaware that from the driving position in most cruisers it is impossible to see swimmers in the water and as a result accidents may occur. Waterways Ireland has issued a Marine Notice to advise masters, owners and all other users of the waterways that it is prohibited to swim in the vicinity of harbours, quays, jetties and within 200m of locks, weirs, bridges and other navigation infrastructure because of the dangers associated with vessels manoeuvring. Also, a fast current is to be expected adjacent to locks, weirs and bridges which can pose a further danger to swimmers.

For more information contact the Local authorites regarding safe swimming locations or Waterways Ireland's Inspector Tel 090 6494232.

Published in Inland Waterways
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Organised jointly by the Athlone Branch and the Carrick Branch of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI), the Shannon Boat Rally (1961- 2016) is the most prestigious and well-attended boating event on Ireland’s inland waterways. “The families boating on the river love coming to Lough Ree and Athlone as part of the Shannon Boat Rally, said Commodore Keith Rowe, “We look forward to welcoming our boating friends both old and new to join us on Saturday 24th July for ten days and enjoy what the river Shannon has to offer. The Shannon is a wonderful resource being important to leisure and recreation, to heritage, to tourism and to the environment.”

“We know only too well how the river Shannon can bring flooding to our town but on this occasion we are celebrating a more positive side to our waterways. In Portrun this year we are launching a book by Donal Boland focusing on the secret and hidden beauty spots on the Shannon”, explained Mr Rowe. “We are also working closely with the RNLI”, he continued, “and this year we are focusing on taking a more proactive approach to boating safety.

“The main objective of the Shannon Boat Rally”, outlined the Commodore, Mr. Rowe “is to bring boaters of all types together to participate in a ten day long fun event for families and friends on the river. “ “The first rally, explained Mr Rowe, was launched at a civic reception in the Royal Hoey Hotel Athlone in 1961 with over 71 boats participating. Throughout its 56 year history over two-thousand nine hundred boats and over eleven thousand people have participated in the boat rally on the Shannon. This year we expect to attract just under 70 boats and three hundred people”, said Mr Rowe

“The Shannon, explained Mr. John Dolan the Association’s 18th President, from IWAI Offaly, “is a wonderful natural resource with a very significant positive impact for Athlone, and if managed can be a catalyst for urban and rural regeneration.”

The 56th Shannon Boat Rally is an annual event that attracts private boat owners and their families to the Shannon for their annual holidays, contributing to the local economy for the past 56 years. From its origins, the rally has grown in popularity every year attracting all classes of boats crewed by over three hundred adults, teenagers and children who participate in sports, games, sailing and boating competitions, quizzes, talent and music events while improving their boating skills and safety practices on our waterways. The rally brings boaters of all abilities and experiences together to share in a common purpose to enjoy the waterways, to share boating know-how and improve their boating skills. The boat rally has attracted many boaters to our inland waterways and promoted development of facilities along the navigation as well as bringing a great dynamic and valuable business to the towns and villages along the river and lakes. The boat rally also encourages responsible use of the waterways for the benefit of all waterway users and has a strong educational, environmental and boating safety theme.

Published in Inland Waterways

#MajorBypass -A contract for a major €230m New Ross Bypass and 900m river bridge was signed last week, following numerous false dawns and political promises, reported the Wexford People. 

The sod turning took place on Monday of the new bypass bridge of New Ross, by the Minister of State Paul Kehoe who said work will begin shortly.

Upwards of 300 jobs are expected to be created in the construction of the bypass, while 2,100 jobs will be created through maintenance, repairs, bridge repairs, drainage and lighting the bypass over 30 years, according to contractors BAM Iridium.

Once open to traffic in 2019 the new road will cut journey times by up to 40 minutes and provide a safer and shorter alternative to the current route through New Ross, eliminating the need for motorists to use the rat run at Raheen into the town.

The new road will allow traffic on the N25 between Cork and Waterford to bypass the town of New Ross and cross the Lower Barrow on a new 36m high, 900m long four-lane suspension bridge. This will feature the world's longest central span three tower extradosed bridge, a type of cable-stay structure, spanning the River Barrow.

It will measure 887m.

The €230 million scheme will involve the construction of approximately 13.6km of new dual carriageway and 1.2km of new and upgraded single carriageway to bypass the town of New Ross.

For more on this major infrastural development spanning the south-eastern river, click here.

Published in Inland Waterways

The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) has issued a public invitation to all candidates in the upcoming election to pledge their support for an IWAI call for provision to be made for new canal bye-laws via a dedicated Canal Bill during the next Dáil.

Support for this on- line pledge will help ensure that adequate byelaws are legislated for that will encourage the use and growth of the canals and be centred on the communities, users and tourism.

The pledge:
"IWAI request election candidates to pledge their support for an IWAI call for provision to be made for new canal bye-laws via a dedicated Canal Bill during the next Dáil when possible rather than including any future legislation in a joint Bill such as the Heritage bill 2016.
Furthermore in developing The Canal (Amendment) Bill 2017 that recognition be given to the canal users, canal communities and Local Authorities adjoining the canals by way of pre-legislative consultation and scrutiny. This approach would be in line with Government reform and best practice."

Candidates pledges of support will be registered opposite their names on the IWAI Website.

With no advance notice or consultation with the inland waterways stakeholders & canal communities the Heritage Bill 2016 was published on 4 January 2016.

IWAI advised that while it would welcome and support proper regulations the proposed Bill did not put user requirements, local communities or tourism at the centre of the regulations. Rather the now lapsed bill is a heavy handed approach that will result in lower boat traffic on the canals.

Prior to the 2016 Bill, in January 2014 Waterways Ireland brought forward proposals for amendments to the Canal Byelaws 1988 under the Canals Act 1986 & Maritime Safety Act 2005.

IWAI campaigned vigorously during the minimal consultation period of 21 days. Public discussion in 2014 on the matter included - the Canals and Barrow as a tourism resource; queries raised in the Seanad and the Dail; County Councils input; public meetings; national and local press articles; television and radio interviews; community websites; blogs and facebook pages. These all reflected the reservations of users, communities and public representatives as to the significant impact of the draconian suggestions in the proposed bye-laws.

The IWAI campaign resulted in an invite to appear before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht.

Published in Inland Waterways
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The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) fear reduced services and prohibitive enforcement practices including stop and search provisions by Waterways Ireland Authorised Officers as a result of the new Heritage Bill published this week.

With no advance notice or consultation with the inland waterways stakeholders & canal communities the Heritage Bill 2016 was published on 4 January 2016. Part 2 deals with amendments to the Canal Act 1986. Minister for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys in introducing the bill to the Seanad at Stage 2 this week stated “it is a robust framework for the making of bye-laws to regulate the use of boats on the canals and the management of canals and canal properties. These changes will enhance the ability of Waterways Ireland to manage waterways for the benefit of all”

IWAI advise that while it would welcome and support proper regulations the proposed Bill does not put user requirements, local communities or tourism at the centre of the regulations. Rather it is a heavy handed approach that will result in lower boat traffic on the canals. Boats will opt to move to the other Irish Waterways also managed by Waterways Ireland, where the regulations are more user friendly and where there are no oppressive fines and penalties.

Background to this Bill
In January 2014 Waterways Ireland brought forward proposals for amendments to the Canal Byelaws 1988 under the Canals Act 1986 & Maritime Safety Act 2005. IWAI campaigned vigorously during the minimal consultation period of 21 days. Public discussion in 2014 on the matter included - the Canals and Barrow as a tourism resource; queries raised in the Seanad and the Dail; County Councils input; public meetings; national and local press articles; television and radio interviews; community websites; blogs and facebook pages. These all reflected the reservations of users, communities and public representatives as to the significant impact of the draconian suggestions in the proposed bye-laws. The IWAI campaign resulted in an invite to appear before the
Oireachtas Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht.

Feedback from members of this cross party Committee who met on 25 March 2014 included:

• “I am fearful that proposals will be implemented without further recommendations” - Senator Cait Keane. Fine Gael Labour Panel.
• “I am of the view that Waterways Ireland must return to the beginning and reconsider this matter from a very practical viewpoint. What is proposed is going to lead to the closure of the Canal” - Deputy James Bannon. Fine Gael Longford - Westmeath
• “People should not feel pushed out of an activity they have grown up with, love and wish to pass on to other generations and the community to help local economies with the tourism income it can provide” - Deputy Barry Cowen. Fianna Fail Laois - Offaly
• “The Bye-laws will impact heavily on a small number of people” - Deputy Catherine Murphy. Independent Kildare North
• “The huge increase in some fees is unacceptable and there is serious concern that the proposed fees will damage tourism and drive people from the waterways” Deputy Sandra McLellan. Sinn Fein Cork East
• “The new bye-laws will make exacting demands on users of the Canal” - Deputy Seamus Kirk. Fianna Fail. Louth
• “The five day rule, which I believe is completely unworkable” - Deputy Ann Phelan. Labour Carlow- Kilkenny

The 2014 proposed byelaws which if passed would have had being invalid as noted on the Waterways Ireland website “The Minister was subsequently advised by the Office of the Attorney General that amendments to the primary legislation governing the bye-laws (the Canals Act 1986) would be necessary to ensure that the new bye-laws would not be ultra vires.” The proposed invalid bye-laws were published with no prior consultation and a short public consultation period of just 21 days, resulted in over 2300 submissions on the issue.

The current position

Two years later and it seems no lessons have being learned on how to communicate with the customer and communities along the canals.

The proposed Canals Act (2016) gives Waterways Ireland, from its Enniskillen headquarters, the authority to appoint “officers” to carry out search and seizure activity on boats and personal property on the Grand Canal, Royal Canal and River Barrow.

In the Republic of Ireland, search and seizure acts are limited to a number of specially trained and professional groups such as the Gardaí, Health a Safety Inspectors and Customs Officers. The boats affected by this new act include residential barges, hire bots and barges, restaurant barges, motor cruisers and fishing boats.

The powers proposed within the new Act will affect those on the waterways of Carlow, Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Longford, Meath, Offaly and Westmeath.

Stage 3 of the Bill has moved on to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht

IWAI members are now looking to this Committee to table sensible amendments to the Heritage Bill 2016.

Future Outlook

Politically, this is now a very big issue. It is going to feature highly as candidates face into elections this spring. The IWAI have gained the interest of local, regional and national politicians on this matter to date, who on behalf of their constituents, want to develop, not constrict, canal use.

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 not subjected to reduced services and prohibitive enforcement practices including stop and search provisions by unknown Waterways Ireland Authorised Officers.

Who to contact for
further information Gregory Whelan, IWAI, p: +353-87-7996356 e: [email protected]
Alan Kelly, IWAI, Mobile: +353-86-8326275
John Dolan, IWAI, Mobile: +353-87-9021039

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#LoughNeagh - Drone footage of the dramatic flooding around Lough Neagh has garnered over 7,000 views on YouTube.

According to the News Letter, hundreds have been flocking to the region to see the effects of flood waters as the lough's level reached a 30-year high.

However, any potential benefits in visitor numbers are far outweighed by the severe cost to local businesses, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

And flooding around the lough will continue to be a problem for the foreseeable future due to a combination of poor water flow control and unreliable long-range weather forecasts.

That was the stark warning from Rivers Agency chief David Potter speaking to a Storming committee earlier this week, as the Belfast Telegraph reports.

"In order to reduce the lough by a foot, we need between 25 and 38 days' notice, and after about five days our level of confidence in the weather forecast is pretty shaky," he said.

"Hopefully that describes the dilemma that we are in. We can't anticipate to the extent that people believe we can."

Meanwhile, a meeting in Brussels this week has dismissed as a myth the notion that EU regulations have prevented flood relief in Co Galway, which is still suffering the effect of December's winter storms.

As Galway Bay FM reports, MEP Marian Harkin revealed that Ireland has made only one application for works of overriding public interest in the last 20 years, as the vast majority of decisions are taken at member state level.

Published in Inland Waterways

#InlandWaters - Quayside enhancements at Lanesborough-Ballyleague are part of a new project to develop facilities along the award-winning Shannon Blueway.

The Flagship REDZ project was submitted by Leitrim County Council on behalf of the Upper Shannon ​Erne Future Economy (USEFE) project partners, which include Bord Na Mona, ESB and Cavan, Leitrim, Longford and Roscommon Local Authorities in conjunction with Waterways Ireland.

The aim of this project is to develop the Shannon Blueway to support the wider economic development of the towns and villages along the Shannon and Erne Waterways.

The blueway is a developing a multi-activity trail running alongside the water which links walking, cycling, canoeing, paddle boarding, angling and cruising with local amenities.

​Twenty-two towns and villages in the Upper Shannon-Erne region are inter-connected by the Shannon and linked canals, providing what Waterways Ireland describes as "a unique opportunity to develop the blueway concept".

​As part of the objectives of the REDZ Flagship project for the Shannon Blueway, the quayside improvements at Lanesborough-Ballyleague will be joined by an extension of the looped walks from Drumleague to Drumhauver, a multi-leisure section of the blueway from Carrick-on-Shannon to Drumshanbo.

Click HERE to view a Facebook gallery​​ dedicated to the quayside improvements in Lanesborough-Ballyleague.

Published in Inland Waterways

#InlandWaters - The waters of the Lough Allen canal, Lough Erne and the Shannon-Erne Waterway will feature in the new series of Channel 4's Great Canal Journeys.

Presenters Tim West and Prunella Scales filmed in the area in July 2015, beginning their journey in Drumshanbo, and between music sessions, poetry and hyrdoelectric locks, they tried everything on the trip up the canal and out onto Lough Erne where they visited islands, homes and castles.

The series starts this coming Sunday (25 October), and the Irish episode will be broadcast at 8pm on Sunday 8 November on Channel 4, with catch-up available later via the channel's on-demand service All4.

Published in Inland Waterways

The inland waterways of County Kildare will be buzzing with boats this coming October Bank Holiday weekend. The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) Kildare will host it’s now annual Naas Canal Festival from Friday October 23rd to Monday 26th. A large fleet of boats is expected to assemble in Sallins harbour on Friday followed by a parade along the Grand Canal, up through the flight of five locks into Naas harbour.

The parade will leave Sallins at 11am and all boats should be in Naas harbour by 5pm. In the spirit of the founders of the IWAI, who established the Association in 1954 to campaign against the installation of fixed span bridges across the River Shannon, IWAI Kildare will use the Naas Canal Festival to showcase the leisure potential of the Grand Canal in this area. Whether your passion involves travelling through locks by boat, paddling a canoe, walking or cycling for health, well being and enjoyment or waiting patiently for a bite on your fishing line, IWAI Kildare invites you to immerse yourself in the amazing engineering achievement that is the Grand Canal.

IWAI Kildare is actively campaigning to re open the Corbally branch of the Grand Canal from Naas harbour to Corbally harbour. This stretch of waterway is in good condition but passage for boats is blocked by a number of culverted crossings, including the road from Naas to Newhall which crosses the canal near Jigginstown.

More information here or contact Niall O Dowda PRO on 086 361 3159

Published in Inland Waterways
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