Ulster Canal needs Government Commitment

*Ulster Canal needs Government Commitment * Following a meeting with Dawn Livingstone, Chief Executive of Waterways Ireland and her senior official, Fianna Fáil Councillor, John Paul Feeley called on the Government to make a clear commitment to the Ulster Canal so that this project can proceed to construction. ‘Waterways Ireland have completed their mandate in respect of the Ulster Canal. Planning Permission has been granted in both jurisdictions. It now requires a commitment by the Government together with the authorities in the North of Ireland to allow construction to get underway. It is time for a clear financial and political commitment from Government.’ The proposal to ultimately link the Shannon Erne Navigation near Belturbet to Clones and on eventually to Newry is a significant cross border project and has been in the making for sometime. At the North/South Ministerial Council meeting on 17 July 2007, it was announced that the governments would work towards the restoration of the stretch of the canal linking the town of Clones, in County Monaghan, to Upper Lough Erne as a first phase. In August 2010, Waterways Ireland published an Ulster Canal Restoration Plan, an Environmental Report and an Appropriate Assessment. They subsequently lodged appropriate applications for planning permission in the relevant counties. ‘It is clear that the this project is of vital importance to the economic future of the communities through which it passes and in particular is essential to the development of tourism in the town of Belturbet. The opening up of the Ulster Canal will transform Belturbet from a terminus to a hub on the navigation and should dramatically increase the numbers passing through the town. It would open up the magnificent Castlesaunderson Centre to cruisers. These are vital to the future.’ The meeting, arranged on foot of a motion raised at Cavan County Council by Cllr. Feeley was also attended by Ger Finn, Deputy County Manager. Amongst those in attendance on behalf of Waterways Ireland were Nigel Russell, Director of Technical Services, Dr. Paula Treacy, Senior Environmental Officer. The Northern Regional Manager and the Director of Civil Engineering was also present. 25th March 2014