The President of IWAI, Brian Cassells today called for a commitment by the
two governments north and south to begin restoration work on the Ulster
Waterways Ireland had commissioned feasibility and socio-economic studies
into the re-opening of the canal from Lough Erne to Clones at the western
end and from Lough Neagh to Blackwatertown at the eastern end.
Welcoming the publication of the two new reports from Waterways Ireland into
the feasibility of re-opening the canal, the President said that the time
was now right to begin work on the ground. IWAI has campaigned for many
years for the full restoration of this canal and the “two ends” approach was
a valuable first step towards a full restoration.
The Ulster Canal crosses the border four times in its 46-mile journey from
Lough Neagh to Lough Erne and is the perfect cross-border project supported
by all the major political parties.
From a socio-economic point of view, the restoration would be a tremendous
boost to an area that has seen little real investment since the canal was
originally built in the 1840s.
The report highlights higher unemployment, lower wage earnings and cheaper
house prices in the canal corridor. It lists numerous economic benefits to
an area largely composed of small farms; such an investment would encourage
farm diversification and create much needed part-time employment, from
hospitality to light engineering and thus discourage depopulation of this
vulnerable area. It is estimated land values fronting the waterway could be
up to 25% more valuable if the project were to be given the green light.
The canal is the missing link in the Irish inland waterways network and its
restoration would create one of the most varied and attractive navigable
waterways in Western Europe.
IWAI is a voluntary body of waterways enthusiasts, founded in 1954. It was
formed to promote the development, use and maintenance of Ireland’s
navigable rivers and canals. IWAI is the voice of the waterway user,
lobbying and advising national governments, local authorities and other
relevant bodies on all matters connected with the inland waterways.