The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland.
Brief report of IWAI Council Meeting, held in Bloomfield Hotel, Mullingar,
on September 24th 2005.
The President of IWAI informed this larger- than- usual
gathering of the IWAI Council that the Extraordinary General Meeting that
had been proposed for September 24th had been postponed because the legal
requirements had not been completed in accordance with legislation.
Under matters arising from the previous minutes, Damien
Delaney proposed that the IWAI should inform Waterways Ireland (who had stated
last year to IWAI senior officers that the refurbishment of the Royal Canal
would be completed by the end of the year 2007) that 2007 be declared the Year
of the Royal Canal and celebrated by a number of rallies to mark the reopening
of the canal from Abbeyshrule westwards to Clondra. It was agreed the
Association should write to Waterways Ireland informing them accordingly and
make clear the intention to celebrate the restoration of the Canal with some
rallies in 2007.
There seemed to be growing evidence that Waterways Ireland
as part of its review of the bye laws, was developing a policy of charging each
boat on the navigations under its control. It was likely there would be an
annual registration fee which would be fairly nominal and a more substantial
annual licence fee. The President stated this matter should be fully debated at
the next meeting of the IWAI Council. This has been arranged for Saturday 26th
November and branches should each be given an opportunity to discuss the
implications of this possible proposal and to bring suggestions for discussion
at this Council meeting. Most members felt that the Association could not reject
reasonable fees if imposed by WI. If IWAI was to reject and refuse to be
involved in consultation, new bye laws and charges would be imposed and the IWAI
would have no opportunity for input. Most speakers thought that Council and the
branches would have to develop a reasonable and rational policy on the bye laws
and on charging which could be argued in the consultation which WI was thought
to be seeking soon. There was a lot of work to be done between now and the
Council meeting in November, branches were urged to convene meetings and discuss
this very important topic.
Meanwhile, the Treasurer of the IWAI, John Corrigan said
that total funds held amounted to €50.000. This included the Ulster Canal
account, magazine account, working capital and the balance due to branches. The
treasurer stated he would be distributing monies due to the branches before the
end of October. If any branch was in urgent need, a cheque could be issued on
account but some good reason would have to be provided.
The main item for discussion was Membership. Brenda
Ainsworth gave a presentation outlining membership analysis. The number of craft
registered by Waterways Ireland on the Shannon Navigation was now 5,683; this
figure did not include Erne registrations. The number of IWAI members at
31/12/04 was 2099 and at the time of completion of the statistics, mid October
2005, membership stood at 2078. Some 438 new members had joined and six had
resigned while 421 had failed to renew their membership. Membership statistics
for 2005 showed 1397 (67.2%), of these were family members and 681 (32.77%) were
single members. There was much discussion regarding these membership numbers.
Many speakers suggested we should obtain a fuller analysis of why so many
members had failed to renew their subscription each year. There was considerable
agreement that a recruitment and retention policy was essential and really this
had to be handled at branch level with the branch treasurers following up each
member who failed to renew. The treasurers would have to check and chase lapsed
members. The President, Brian Cassells, wanted a brief summary of the data
discussed at the meeting, circulated to the branches; this should form the basis
for branch discussion and action.
Greg Whelan pointed out that the location for the
IWAI Conference this year was the Lough Neagh Discovery Centre at Oxford
Island, Craigavon. This had been granted to the Association by Craigavon Borough
Council at no charge. It would be held on Thursday October 13th and details had
been published and circulated to all local authorities and other relevant
groups. Details and charges were on the IWAI web site. He asked that members in
each branch should make a point of visiting each county councillor known to them
and urge them to sign up and attend at the modest cost of €150 or £100, in the
vast majority of instances this fee would be paid by the employer. Much will be
learnt about how an inland waterway can be of benefit to their locality and it
should be an enjoyable experience!
Another topic that Council has been discussing for some
time was the matter of the appointment of a Project Manager for the Association.
Paul Garland sought approval to advertise this post in the next issue of the
Inland Waterways News. He further suggested it should also be in the national
press, North and South of the border, in an attempt to recruit this much needed
person to help advance the activities of the Inland Waterways Association of
Ireland, members agreed to this proposal.
Colin Becker told the meeting that he could also do with
some help in respect of a survey being undertaken into the provision of pump-out
stations. He needs the help of branch members everywhere to provide feed-back to
him to see how all the pump-out systems are going. Colin’s mobile number is
0872426249. Help is also being sought by Dave McCabe who suggested developing a
kind of mobile shop that stocked items for sale that the membership could
purchase; this could also be used by branches to promote membership recruitment
at events. Approval was sought by Colin Becker and the Ulster Canal sub
committee, for a project officer to be employed for two years, working on the
scheme of restoration of the Ulster Canal. This position would be totally funded
from an EEC cross border fund. The Council meeting agreed that an application
for funding should be made forthwith.
meeting with Waterways Ireland
Finally, the annual formal meeting between Waterways
Ireland and the Inland Waterways Association will be taking place in November.
The IWAI delegation will be led by the President, Brian Cassells and by Colin
Becker, chair of the boating and leisure committee. The agenda is already
substantial though if any member or branch wished to submit items for
discussion, they should contact Brian or Colin as soon as possible and certainly
before the end of October.