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Naomh Éanna Meeting With Minister 'Not Constructive' Says Campaigner

30th March 2014
Naomh Éanna Meeting With Minister 'Not Constructive' Says Campaigner

#NaomhEanna - Campaigners for the preservation of the heritage vessel Naomh Éanna have said their meeting with the Heritage Minister this week "could not be described as constructive".

Last Wednesday the Naomh Éanna Trust's Save Our Ship (SOS) campaign and marine restoration firm Irish Ship & Barge Fabrication Co presented their business plan for the restoration of the former Aran Islands ferry, said to be one of the world's last surviving riveted ships.

TheJournal.ie has more details from the €1.85 million business plan, put together in just four weeks, with artist's renderings of what the Naomh Éanna might look like once converted for use as a floating restaurant with a boutique hostel, a museum and event a micro-brewery, upon relocation to a new berth in Galway Port.

The Naomh Éanna is currently in dry dock at Grand Canal Dock, where she has resided for some 25 years, awaiting a final decision on her fate after Heritage Minister Jimmy Deenihan granted a Seanad-prompted reprieve till tomorrow 31 March.

Sam Field Corbett, of Irish Ship & Barge Fabrication and a key figure in the campaign, said the "comprehensive" plan was just the first step in a process that now requires a proper survey of the vessel before outside investors can be sought for a project that could employ 50 people.

But he has since expressed frustration at the State’s position following the meeting on Wednesday 26 March, claiming that “the main thread of feeling on the minister’s side rested on avoiding any unnecessary expenses or responsibilities being incurred by the State.”

Field Corbett said: "I understand there is some doubt in the minister's department as to the heritage value of the Naomh Éanna. As she is not yet a 100-year-old 'wreck' she is afforded no protection from the minister's department."

Moreover, he said those in attendance - including Minister Deenihan, senior officials from his department and a senior member of Waterways Ireland - "all agreed the proposed business was impressive and workable, yet of little concern of theirs."

For now the Naomh Éanna will remain in dry dock at the campaign's own expense, while a public appeal is being prepared to raise funds for the "essential" comprehensive vessel survey.

Published in Historic Boats
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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