As of May 2016, our campaign to obtain fair Byelaws continues.  Over the past three years, the IWAI has constantly campaigned on this issue.  Here are the highlights from 2013 and 2014.  To read up on progress during 2015 and 2016 go to the News section and follow the links on our Welcome page.  To view all IWAI Press Releases go to IWAI

October 2014

In a PQ, the Minister was asked “the extent to which she has met or proposes to meet canal users with a view to resolving issues that have arisen following publication of draft by-laws by Waterways Ireland; and if she will make a statement on the matter.” The Minister stated “Waterways Ireland has submitted a revised set of draft by-laws to my Department, which is currently being reviewed.” The Minister again gave the same commitment given in the Seanad on February 26th to discuss proposals with interested deputies and senators in advance of making a final decision.

June & July 2014

Deputy Willie Penrose asks Minister Deenihan in a PQ if “he will ensure that conciliation and agreement is reached with the relevant groups prior to the implementation of any such regulations; and if he will make a statement on the matter.” The Minister provides a similar response to that given on March 6th.

IWAI send 10,000 postcards to politicians in July, seeking support.

There were four PQs to the new Minister Heather Humphreys during July. July PQ 1 and PQ 2

April 2014

A ByeLaw update meeting was held in Hazelhatch on April 22nd, attended by users of the Grand and Royal Canals and representatives from local businesses. Of immediate concern was the lack of communication from Waterways Ireland, particularly on the submissions and the timeframe for a review process.

On April 30th, WI released its report on submissions received as part of the ByeLaw public consultation process. [link no longer available]

March 2014

In answer to a PQ Minister Deenihan stated he will afford all deputies and senators an opportunity to discuss the ByeLaw proposals with him before a final decision is made.

February 2014

Several politicians spoke about the ByeLaws. Labour Deputy Emmet Stagg TD made a statement calling on WI to withdraw its proposed ByeLaw changes and to engage in discussion with the IWAI. Labour Senator John Whelan stated the canals could become “derelict backwaters” if proposed ByeLaw changes go ahead. Labour Senator John Kelly stated boat users must “not be steered away” from canals. Labour Senator John Kelly questioned Minister Deenihan on the WI Canal ByeLaw proposals.

During February, the IWAI CAG issued two Press Releases (PR)

The first PR was IWAI seeks engagement with WI in relation to the ByeLaws Among the concerns expressed were “high charges will be levied on boat traffic, vessel owners will be fined and waterways users will leave. Dublin and many rural towns and villages will lose out enormously. Economic, tourism, heritage, culture and other advantages of the waterways are in peril. …. The boating community is not averse to appropriate management, facility provision and access to waterways. But boats are key attractions, as the lifeblood of the navigations and need to be welcomed.”

In its Valentine to Minister Deenihan, the IWAI stated “Politically, this is a very big issue. IWAI has advised that Mr. Jimmy Deenihan, TD, Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, will sign proposed new rules into law, if these new regulations are finalised.

  • The ByeLaws should concern Mr. Leo Varadkar, TD, Minister for Tourism, Transport and Sport on the potential of the ‘Green and Silver’ navigation route, from Dublin to the Shannon via the Grand or Royal Canals and vice versa, promoted by Dublin IWAI – now under threat.
  • Further, the work of Mr. Phil Hogan, TD, Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government should not be ruined by Waterways Ireland doing their own thing with a national resource. The Local Government Reform Bill 2014 gives localities more power. The rushed ByeLaw consultation process mitigates against resource co-ordination and alignment.
  • The IWAI now suggests that opportunities for enterprise development on inland navigations should also interest Richard Bruton, TD, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

The boating community is not averse to appropriate management, facility provision, and access to waterways. But boats are key attractions, as the lifeblood of the navigations, and need to be welcomed.”

Minister Jimmy Deenihan stated on Feb 18th, WI was currently analysing over 2000 submissions on the proposed ByeLaws, after which they will produce a report with recommendations for consideration by the Minister, in advance of a final decision

The Seanad debated the proposed ByeLaws. Some of the comments ….”.we are not dealing with Monte Carlo. We are dealing with Monasterevin, so let us get grounded on this issue.”

“To be successful in business, one must get the fundamentals right, but this plan does not deal with any of them.”

“There is a great opportunity here to do something progressive and positive for all of those communities touched by the 1,000 km of waterways.”

Kildare County Council at a meeting on Feb 26th, passed a motion brought by Cllr John McGinley, to reject the proposed ByeLaw changes. Oireachtas Debate

January 2014

During January, the IWAI Canals Action Group (CAG) issued four Press Releases (PR).

The first was to encourage everyone to participate in the public consultation on Canal ByeLaws and the Waterways Ireland (WI) Corporate Plan. … “Carmel Meegan, President of the IWAI, stated the key objectives of the process must be to ensure that the canal regulations encourage and nurture the growth of domestic and international boat tourism on these fine navigations.”

The theme of the second PR was ‘No More Boats on the Grand and Royal Canals?’ ….”The ByeLaws will not encourage and nurture growth of domestic and international boat tourism on these fine navigations. The result will be a serious decline in boat traffic and associated economic benefit to locations along the system.”

‘End of an era – canal ByeLaws in, boats out’ was the subject of the third PR in January. “.. a major threat to the community economic gain of boat travel to the Grand Canal, the Royal Canal and the River Barrow. Who knows any further threat to other users and other waterways in Ireland? Many counties should be concerned. Navigations and locations affected for now are along the Barrow through Carlow, Kilkenny, Laois, Kildare and the Royal and Grand Canals in Kildare, Meath, Longford, Offaly and Westmeath. ”

One Day Only – save the Canals and River Barrow was the theme of the final PR in January “Widespread community alarm is emerging at proposed amendments by Waterways Ireland on Canal ByeLaws.” Comments in the Senate included “there is an element within the proposed ByeLaws of over-bureaucracy and bureaucracy gone mad.”

There were several, well attended, public meeting in locations along the canal, in Tullamore, Naas, Dublin and Leighlinbridge. Local politicians, members of the business community, canal user groups and residents who benefit from the canal, attended the meetings.

The CAG issued a lobbying letter to all branches. During a debate in the Seanad, the Minister for Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht, was urged to extend the consultation deadline.

At the end of January, there was a premature temporary closure of the Grand Canal in Sallins without appropriate notice by WI. This left boats stranded between the 13th and the 14th lock. IWAI Kildare issued a complaint to WI on the unacceptable nature of issuing a Marine Notice on the day that it becomes effective.

The Minister was urged to extend the consultation deadline

Fine Gael Deputy Anthony Lawlor TD stated that the price jump resulting from the implementation of ByeLaw amendments will have a devastating effect on houseboats

Sep 2013 – Combined Mooring and Passage Permit (CMP) – the 5-day rule

Many members expressed confusion about how Waterways Ireland (WI) are enforcing the 5-day rule on the canals.  In September, we asked them a series of questions to clarify the process.

From WI Website:Boats not complying with the terms of the Combined Mooring and Passage Permit (CMP) will enter the enforcement process.  The process can conclude with the boat being moved from the system and stored at owner’s expense”.

Q: When coming into moor, how can one tell what is a 5-day mooring (CMP) location, what is an extended mooring (EMP) location and what is just a nice grassy bank?

WI: “Generally EMP locations are marked with mooring posts that are/will be numbered. All others, except waiting jetties at locks, are 5-day mooring locations.

Q: Having identified a 5-day mooring spot, when the 5 days are up, may a boater then moor at the same general location but 500 metres up the line?


Q: If so and when the 5 days are up again, may that boater then return to their original spot 500 metres down the line?

WI:“As per the letter of the law, yes.”

Q: Why are the boats on the Grand Canal from Lowtown to Shannon Harbour being ‘stickered’ at this time (Sep 2013) and not those on the Naas Branch and Dublin Line?

WI: The stickering of vessels is being rolled out on a phased basis, as operationally convenient and as resources become available.”

Q: If a boat stays on a 5-day mooring (and the owner does not inform WI by phone of their inability to move the boat within the allotted time), how soon will the boat be ‘stickered’?

WI: Lock keepers are now tasked with monitoring vessels in their immediate areas of responsibility.  Vessels will generally be stickered on the sixth day, as operationally convenient and resources are made available.

Q: Once a boat is stickered and the owner still fails to return, what happens next?

WI: “If WI has current contact details for the owner, they will be contacted and advised that they have been stickered and requested to move as per the bye-laws.”

Q: What process does WI need to follow to lift a boat out of the water?

WI: “Place a notice on board, attempt to contact the owner either by phone or letter (registered,) if WI has an address.  If the vessel is causing an obstruction (sunk/sinking/etc.) then the vessel may be removed immediately.”

Q: How are owners informed that their boat is about to be lifted?

WI: “If the owner is known (current permit,) then a registered letter to owners advising that the boat is to be lifted and stored at their cost.  Also, the vessel will have been stickered prior to this and attempts to contact the owner by phone will also have been made – if details are known.”

Q: Are there notice periods in place for each phase of this process?

WI: “All reasonable notice is given to known owners of vessels.  Once a vessel is removed and stored, there is a time delay of one month prior to disposal (to defray costs).  A notice of intent to dispose of vessels is placed in the national press, on the WI website and locally. A final notice of intent is given to owner (if known)”

Q: What are the storage charges in place for a boat that has been lifted and stored?

WI: “This depends on location of storage or whether a third party stores the vessel on behalf of WI.”

Q: Will the boat be stored in a secure place and in a suitable manner for its type and material?

WI:  “Boats will be stored as operationally convenient and safely chocked.”

Q: When can WI sell/auction a boat that has been removed from the system?

WI: “As per above, after one month if no claim is made and no payment received, the vessel may be disposed of to defray costs.”


Sep 2013 – Indemnity for CMP – latest

Boat owners wishing to obtain a Combined Mooring and Passage Permit from Waterways Ireland are advised to check with their insurer in advance of accepting the Indemnity on the application form. Most insurers are now happy to accept the wording of the Indemnity but boat owners are advised to get this acceptance in writing before applying for a CMP.

Apr 2013 – WI regulation changes – Insurance Indemnity – IWAI recommendations

Guidelines for members who intend to apply for or renew their Combined Mooring and Passage Permit.

This information assumes that boat owners intend to have a valid CMP and insurance.  If you know any boat owner who is not a member, please share this information and encourage them to join the IWAI.

‘Concerning the application for and renewal of Combined Mooring and Passage Permits, IWAI recommends the following:

– all boat owners using the Grand or Royal Canals or Barrow Navigation should have a valid CMP for their boat in line with best practice to date.

– when the CMP is due for renewal boat owners should apply for a new CMP using Waterways Ireland’s centralised application system on the form provided by WI on its website or through its office in Tullamore.

– boat owners should state in writing that following advice from insurance companies they will not be in a position to sign the indemnity clause in the application form.

– boat owners should also make it clear to WI that they still intend to pay the €126 fee to renew their CMP

– boat owners should indicate to WI that this position is supported by the IWAI.

– if a boat owner intends to travel frequently but finds that on occasion they cannot be present to move their boat by the time the mooring time limit expires, they should contact the Inspectorate and explain their circumstances. This approach, polite and direct has worked well to date.

– IWAI has been in contact with WI concerning the indemnity requirement and this contact is ongoing.’

These recommendations apply to the CMP only.  IWAI will be contacting WI separately regarding the EMP.

Feb 2013 – IWAI recommend – contact your insurer re Mooring Permits

In an earlier news item, the IWAI recommended that members wishing to apply for a navigation permit this season should check with their insurance company in advance of signing the Indemnity clause contained in the application form. A number of members followed this recommendation and reported back to the Action Group.

Arising from this the IWAI sought legal advice as to whether the Waterways Ireland indemnity is enforceable or not. A summary of the response received reads:

The indemnity is too broad for it to be realistically enforceable. In addition it is unlikely that a boat owner could secure such an indemnity.

(This view tallies with most of the responses from insurers already requested by members).

The IWAI President has written to Waterways Ireland on this matter today and WI acknowledged receipt of this letter, today. A further response from WI is expected in due course.  AK 2013

If you are an insured boat owner, planning on using the Grand or Royal Canals or Barrow Navigation and intend:

  • obtaining/renewing a Combined Mooring and Passage Permit (CMP) or
  • obtaining an Extended Mooring Permit (EMP) or
  • obtaining a free One Month Permit

The IWAI strongly recommends that you contact your insurance company and provide them with a copy of the following sections of the Waterways Ireland Permit Application Form:


Boat Insurance

Name of Insurance Provider

Policy Number

Expiry Date

A copy of the Certificate of Insurance must be included with this application.


Please tick as applicable:

I/We hereby indemnify and shall keep indemnified Waterways Ireland from and against all actions proceedings costs claims demands and liabilities howsoever arising from my/our use of the facilities provided by Waterways Ireland on the Royal Canal, Grand Canal and Barrow Navigation and shall further indemnify and keep indemnified Waterways Ireland in respect of any accident, injury, loss or damage to any person or property howsoever arising including, without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing, where such accident injury loss or damage arises by reason of any matter or thing done or omitted to be done by me/us or person authorised by me/us or the purported exercise of such use.

As you can see, each application requires proof of insurance and a signature agreeing to indemnify Waterways Ireland.

The application form has changed considerably since this was first brought to our notice last year.  Because of a byelaw enforcement letter, sent recently by WI to permit holders, a number of boat owners have contacted their insurers providing copies of the relevant sections included above.  The insurers have indicated that they have to consider their position regarding the indemnity to be signed.  Please take this seriously and do your research before you sign up to any agreement. Any legally minded thoughts on this would be appreciated.

Alan Kelly on behalf of the IWAI Action Group kildare@iwai.ie

Feb 2013 – IWAI Action Plan – update

At the recent IWAI Council meeting in Mullingar, the association agreed to support a national campaign of action in relation to regulation changes currently being implemented by Waterways Ireland. The groundwork for this plan was put in place by an action group that met in Athy in January.

IWAI intends to use all means at its disposal to maximise the impact of this campaign.  IWAI will be targeting all stakeholders with an interest in the inland waterways including the regulatory body.

IWAI will strongly put forward its view of how these regulation changes will impact on all aspects of the waterways and the life (current and future) of the many communities reliant on the waterways as part of their local economies.

IWAI is in the process of distributing more detailed information to members, through its branches, and this work will continue for the next few months.

IWAI will then escalate its campaign nationwide and encourage other interest groups and stakeholders to take note of the IWAI position. This will be done in a co-ordinated manner and is likely to take considerable time.

What is certain right now is that this action will not be a short campaign with immediate results. What is also certain is that IWAI, as a key stakeholder in the inland waterways, must take this action in order to secure a better, fairer future for all waterways interest groups.

AK 2013

Jan 2013 – IWAI Action Plan – WI regulation changes

On January 16th 2013, representatives from all six IWAI Branches on the Grand and Barrow navigations attended a meeting in Athy, County Kildare. The meeting was chaired by the IWAI President.

Following frank and detailed discussion the IWAI is now preparing a course of action in response to Waterways Ireland’s intended regulation changes.   More details will be issued in due course.

Alan Kelly, Secretary – Kildare Branch