18/10/2007

Trans-Irish Canal Network Launched

Following the success of the Erne-Shannon Waterway project, which re-opened sections of canal linking Upper Lough Erne with the Shannon, at Leitrim, plans for an expanded all-Ireland waterway, which will link more than 400 miles of canal have been announced.

Ministers said they wanted to move forward the scheme for restoration of a section of the Ulster Canal that would boost tourism on both sides of the border.

While the long neglected stretch of water is from Clones to Upper Lough Erne, the geography is such that when the project is completed, it will be possible to travel from Coleraine to Waterford or Limerick - the first time both canal systems will be connected.

Access to the River Bann system would allow leisure cruisers to travel from, for example, Coleraine to Limerick - a journey that would take around 10 days.

Another separate route, already set to open in 2009, will give additional access to the Royal Canal leading into Dublin.

On Wednesday, Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure Edwin Poots laid a stone at the new Waterways Ireland headquarters in Enniskillen, along with his Irish ministerial counterpart Eamon O'Cuiv.

Mr Poots was accompanied by Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy at an Inland Waterways sectoral meeting in County Cavan.

"Major achievements include work on the restoration of Royal Canal and the decision to proceed with the restoration of a section of the Ulster Canal," he said.

"These are important issues in developing the tourism infrastructure across the island and as we have seen elsewhere the rejuvenation of inland waterways can play a key role in economic regeneration."

(BMcC)


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