12/03/2008

Cash Flows Into Ulster Canal

Plans for an expanded all-Ireland waterway, which will link more than 400 miles of canal - announced late last year - have now taken a step forward.

Ministers from both parts of Ireland have 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.

Now, a €35 Million restoration of a stretch of the Ulster Canal from Upper Lough Erne to Clones has been formally announced among other details of works to be completed by Waterways Ireland.

The Republic's Community and Rural Affairs Minister Eamon Ó' Cuív yesterday announced that funding for the project is coming from the €75m allocated to canals infrastructure under the Irish National Development Plan, 2007-2013.

Other projects being planned over the next five years include the reopening of the Royal Canal to boating traffic in 2009; construction of a Regional Office at Carrick-on-Shannon; the construction of offices, depot, workshops and stores at Thomastown on the Royal Canal; and the construction of new stores in Portumna and Tullamore.

Mr Ó' Cuív said initiatives to restore canals can boost the local economies and tourism potential of rural communities.

He said: "As these waterways run through some of the less developed areas of the country, their potential for acting as regeneration catalysts in this manner is considerable.

"Preliminary investigations will also commence on a number of other waterways to allow consideration to be given to their reconstruction at a future date."

He added: "Waterways Ireland expects to have in place a further 3,750m of moorings, 70km of new or improved waterway and a range of facilities such as service blocks, pump-outs and car parks.

"This will ensure a waterway system with improved access for all, which will provide an enjoyable amenity for boat users, walkers, anglers, etc, and where people can enjoy a quiet peaceful time in relaxing circumstances."

Advertisements are to placed next month to seek consultants to begin work on the Ulster Canal project.

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.

See: Trans-Irish Canal Network Launched

(VB)(JM)(BMcC)


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