New canal bye laws being introduced by Waterways Ireland could sound the death knell for development and tourism, with opposition mounting from the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI).
If implemented the new bye-laws will drastically restrict access and traffic on the canals, which will be detrimental to their development and to tourism.
So said Labour Senator John Whelan, who raised the issue in the Senate recently.
“We need more cop on and not more red tape to ensure fair access and the development of the valuable resource which are our canals which date back to 1790s - and are immortalized in song and verse,” said Sen Whelan.
Sen Whelan said he had received very strong feedback from the Inland Waterways branches in towns such as Rathangan, Monasterevin, Vicarstown, Athy and Sallin, and from boat dwellers along the canal.
“I will continue to press the case for those concerned with the Minister and Waterways Ireland as the current proposals will return the canals to being derelict backwaters,” he vowed.
At an IWAI meeting in Naas on January 18, Carmel Meegan, president of IWAI, confirmed “the proposed bye-laws do not put user requirements, tourism development and local communities at the centre of the regulations”.
“The bye-laws amendments proposed by Waterways Ireland are a major threat to the community economic gain of boat travel on the Grand Canal, the Royal Canal and the River Barrow. Who knows any further threat to other users and other waterways in Ireland?” she said.
The IWAI said that boat traffic on canals can contribute enormously to tourism and it has activated its branch network on this issue.