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.
"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.