Tuesday, 3 February 2015
Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
Inland Waterways Development
652. To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in view of the proposed Waterways Ireland canal by-laws, when she will make a final decision on the proposed new by-laws; if she will ensure that such proposals are not overly restrictive and punitive for users of the waterways and that user concerns and their submissions are taken cognisance of in her final decision; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4481/15]
Waterways Ireland proposes to make new bye-laws which are intended to enhance its ability to manage the canals for the benefit of all canal users. There are over 14,000 registered boat owners on the seven waterways managed by Waterways Ireland. These seven waterways make a vital contribution to tourism, attracting visitors from around Ireland and from abroad.
The proposed new bye-laws are intended to enhance the ability of Waterways Ireland to manage the Royal and Grand Canals and the Barrow Navigation for the benefit of all canal users. Investment by Waterways Ireland in these waterways has made them more attractive for boat owners and is helping to develop them as a vibrant recreational and tourist amenity for all waterway users. In this context, it is now necessary to update the bye-laws to ensure that the rules governing use of the waterways are fit for purpose and best meet the needs of all waterway users.
I am aware that concerns have been raised regarding certain aspects of the proposed bye-laws. Waterways Ireland undertook a public consultation process in relation to the proposed bye-laws in 2014. I am advised that the main stakeholders, including the Inland Waterway Association of Ireland, the Heritage Boat Association, the Royal Canal Amenity Group and the Irish Boat Rental Association, were contacted individually and invited to meet with the Chief Executive and the senior management team of Waterways Ireland prior to submitting their views. The current permit holders on the three waterways, including traditional canal users and canal dwellers, received individual written notices and were given the opportunity to make their views known.
I understand that over 2,000 submissions were made in the course of the public consultation process and that Waterways Ireland has concluded its analysis of the submissions received. A summary of the consultation process and of the submissions received is available on the Waterways Ireland website at .
My officials are currently liaising with Waterways Ireland with a view to finalising draft bye-laws which will be referred to me, as Minister, with recommendations for consideration and final decision. It is my intention to afford interested Deputies and Senators an opportunity to discuss the proposals with me prior to making a final decision on the draft bye-laws.