James Lawless TD raised the difficulties boaters are having in navigating the canals in Kildare, with Josepha Madigan of DCHG.
“I recently asked the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan, if the Department has any plans to dredge the Royal and Grand Canals or remove weeds in order to allow boat, barge and canoe traffic through, increasing the potential of these canals to be used as local amenities and tourist attractions. This was following several contacts from local groups who are increasingly frustrated at the difficulty boaters are experiencing in trying to navigate the canals in Kildare. Whilst the greenway is fantastic, it is part of the package to have boats traversing the water in parallel.
The Minister outlined that weeds are cut in the canals during the summer season, but resource issues and the capacity of the machinery used means that the entire stretch is not maintained at the same time.
The Department does not do enough to support boat tourism and traffic. 25 km of the Royal Canal and 86 km of the Grand Canal pass through Co Kildare and with proper maintenance both canals could be used all year round by boats, bringing a boost to local business along the routes. With the Greenway projects on both canals progressing, it would be a shame to focus only on the towpaths and forget about the bit in the middle.
The canals in Kildare were traditionally a hive of activity but unfortunately, we are approaching a situation where boats avoid them due to the difficulties in navigating them. This also affects kayaks and local canoe clubs. I would urge the Government and Waterways Ireland to make the necessary investments in canal maintenance. Without the proper investment, these valuable amenities will continue to be squandered.”