Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
1104. To ask the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht the status of the restoration of the Ulster Canal; when she expects the project to fully reach completion; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11343/20]
In July 2007, the North South Ministerial Council agreed to a proposal to restore a 13km section of the Ulster Canal from Upper Lough Erne to Clones. This project is important for the border region with potential to stimulate economic activity, giving a much needed boost to job creation and with the growth in water based tourism helping to attract significant numbers of visitors to the area.
In relation to Phase 1, work was completed in 2019 on dredging works to the River Finn, construction of a new navigation arch at Derrykerrib Bridge and the installation of a new mooring facility at Castlesaunderson.
In Phase 2, Waterways Ireland was successful in 2019 in securing funding under the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund towards the restoration of the canal between Clones and Clonfad (circa 1 km) in County Monaghan. The body is currently preparing plans for the restoration of this section of the canal while a commission to investigate sourcing a sustainable water supply is ongoing. Future plans include connectingCastle Saunderson to Clonfad, thereby linking the town of Clones by navigable waterway to the Erne system.
Waterways Ireland is also continuing to work with its local authority partners to develop 22km of greenway along the Ulster Canal from Smithborough, Co. Monaghan to Middletown, Co. Armagh.
Work is currently on-going to prepare for a planning application. An Ulster Canal Greenway strategy has been produced by Waterways Ireland and its partners which sets out how this greenway could become the spine of a network of off-road greenways across this rural border region.
The project is progressing incrementally, as resources allow, and options for moving to the next phases are being considered.