JOINT COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT, CULTURE AND THE GAELTACHT
25 APRIL 2014
WATERWAYS IRELAND
 Opening Statement
 Canal Bye-Laws
 Future of the Heritage Vessel the Naomh Eanna
Background
Waterways Ireland is the navigation authority for approximately 1,000 km of navigable
waterways, comprising:
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Barrow Navigation
Lower Bann Navigation
Royal Canal
Erne System
Shannon-Erne Waterway
Grand Canal
Shannon Navigation
Waterways Ireland's statutory function is to manage, maintain, develop and restore
specified inland navigable waterways, principally for recreational purposes.
Since establishment Waterways Ireland has:
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Restored the Royal Canal to navigation;
Opened up new cruising destinations such as Boyle and Ballinasloe;
Developed integrated recreational facilities at numerous locations such as Lough
Key, Enniskillen, Clondra, Killaloe, Clashganny, Shannon Harbour, Enfield and
Mullingar;
Doubled the mooring capacity on the waterways;
Developed a necklace of recreational services all along the waterways;
Placed the waterways at the centre of the tourism offering both nationally and
internationally; and
Formulated and implemented numerous community and activity support
programmes including its hugely successful sponsorship programme, its education
outreach programme and its archive facility.
Since establishment in 1999, the number of boats registered with Waterways Ireland has
increased by more than 50% to some 14,000 craft. Waterways Ireland, in research
undertaken into the private boating sector, estimates that the sector is worth between
€80 million and €100 million per annum to the national economy. In a separate study
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undertaken by Fáilte Ireland and Waterways Ireland into the cruise hire sector it is
estimated that the sector contributes between €15 million and €20 million per annum.
At an operational level, Waterways Ireland has responsibility for navigation channels,
embankments, towpaths, adjoining lands, harbours, jetties, fishing stands, bridges, locks,
sluices, lock houses, along with buildings and archives and maintain the pumping
infrastructure to provide water for the canals. Waterways Ireland also provides a fish
stocking service on the canals.
Royal Canal, Grand Canal and Barrow Navigation
New and improved facilities have been provided all along the three canal waterways while
service blocks with toilets, showers and laundries continue to be developed at strategic
locations. In all Waterways Ireland has invested, on behalf of the taxpayer, over €50million
in the infrastructure of the Royal and Grand Canals and Barrow Navigation.
In total the three canals are 420 km (including branches) in length and have a total of
126 lock gates. They represent nationally important outdoor public recreational corridors
with the Grand and Royal Canals providing state owned recreational route ways from Dublin
to the West of Ireland and the Shannon Navigation. The Barrow Navigation, at 65 km long
runs from Athy and is of outstanding natural beauty being a canalised river. Waterways
Ireland’s jurisdiction ends at St Mullins.
Waterways Ireland also markets and promotes the navigations. It has supported numerous
events and activities on and adjacent to the canals and Barrow Navigation working in
partnership with local authorities, tourism agencies and activity and accommodation
providers along each of its navigations. For example in 2013 Waterways Ireland supported
Tri Athy, Eigse Carlow, the All Ireland Coarse Angling Championships in Edenderry, Phizzfest
in Phibsboro, the Docklands Summer Festival in Dublin City, and Canoe Polo Championships
in Enfield to name but a few. In conjunction with Ingenious Ireland, Waterways Ireland
developed a mobile App and Audio Guide to the Barrow and its corridor last year. At the
same time Waterways Ireland in partnership with Westmeath County Council has developed
a Greenway cycle route along the Royal Canal and continues to work and support the
further development of that greenway in Dublin, Kildare, Meath and Longford. These are
but some of the many initiatives, supports, developments and investments made by
Waterways Ireland on the Royal Canal, Grand Canal and Barrow Navigation.
The canals are an integral part of each of towns and villages they pass through and the city
of Dublin. They provide green corridors and public open spaces for each of these
communities and thousands of people interact with them on a daily basis walking, cycling,
fishing, canoeing and boating. With boats ranging from small boats launched and removed
on a daily basis to large boats and traditional canal barges which remain permanently on the
canals.
The canals are proposed Natural Heritage Areas and important resources of biodiversity and
environmental and built heritage.
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Waterways Ireland works in partnership with a wide range of other organisations to enable
the development and ongoing restoration of the canals, such as with the National Parks and
Wildlife Service and Local Authorities. For example at present South Dublin County Council
are working on an upgrade of canal towpath from the 11th Lock, at Ashtown to the 12th Lock
at Castleknock on the Royal Canal to be part of the city’s enhanced cycleway network with a
proposed external investment of €1.2 m.
Other work includes collaboration with Kildare, Laois, Carlow and Kilkenny Local Authorities
on the Barrow Navigation where Waterways Ireland is leading the planning and
development of proposals to provide a 60 km enhanced towpath trackway to create a long
distance recreational route for pedestrians and cyclists on this navigation.
There has been a boat population on the canals during the development and reopening of
the canals which has averaged 500 boats. There are currently 45 boats which are the
occupant’s sole or primary residence, eight of these are located in the Grand Canal Dock,
having moved from other locations in the past two years from the Grand Canal Dock
moorings opened.
Managing Boat Use of the Canals
Following a communications campaign in June 2012 that it would be seeking to actively
implement the Canals Act, 1986 (Bye-Laws), 1988 regarding the maximum stay in any
location, Waterways Ireland commenced a programme of proactively managing boat use on
the canals.
Bye-law 25. (1) states:
25. (1) No person shall moor a boat—
(d) at the same place on the canals, or within 500 metres of the same place,
for more than 5 days without the appropriate permit from the
Commissioners.
Waterways Ireland at this time having taken Senior Counsel advice confirmed that the
Combined Mooring and Passage (CMP) permit at a cost of €126 only provided for a
maximum stay in one location of five days and did not permit boat owners to remain
permanently in one place.
In recognition that as there were no private off-line moorings on the canals boat owners
needed somewhere they could park their boats when not in use beyond five days,
Waterways Ireland introduced Extended Mooring Permits (EMP) under Bye-law 6. of the
Canals Act, 1986 (Bye-Laws), 1988.
Bye-law 6. states:
6. (1) The Commissioners may issue permits to authorise and regulate the use of
boats on the canal property.
(2) Permits may contain such reasonable written conditions as the
Commissioners think fit.
(3) Permits shall be for stated periods or journeys.
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(4) Permits may be revoked or withdrawn by the Commissioners.
(5) The Commissioners may, at their discretion, decline to issue any permit.
(6) Where the Commissioners propose to revoke or withdraw a permit they shall,
subject to paragraph (7) of this Bye-law, serve notice on the owner of the
boat.
(7) Where it has not been found possible on reasonable enquiry to ascertain the
name and address, or to locate the owner, or where the boat, in the opinion
of the Commissioners or any of their authorised officers, is or is likely to
become or create an obstruction or danger to the canal property or other
users or is likely to deposit or discharge any offensive or polluting matter on to
any part of the canal property, the Commissioners, or any of their authorised
officers, may withdraw or revoke the permit without prior notification to the
owner.
(8) Any boat on canal property which is without a valid permit but is being used
for a purpose for which a permit is required under these Bye-laws may be
removed and stored by, or on the authority of, the Commissioners.
Waterways Ireland identified 50 sites for potential extended mooring locations throughout
the three canals and mapped and published these on its website. These are locations where
a boat owner is granted permission to leave their boat for up to a year.
The maximum available charge under the Canals Act, 1986 (Bye-Laws), 1988 for these was
IR£10 per month or €152 per year when converted to Euro. For economies of
administration costs Waterways Ireland withdrew the option to purchase an EMP on a
monthly basis at IR£10 (€12.70), except in the Grand Canal Dock as it did not want boats
taking up berths for a year in this prime location. The berths in Grand Canal Docks are
issued for shorter periods of 1 to 4 months. Waterways Ireland also removed the option for
boats on the canal to not purchase a CMP, but buy lock passages at IR£0.50 (€0.63), again
for economies of administration.
Waterways Ireland revised the application process and information required to apply for a
CMP and EMP and centralised the purchase of these through the Assistant Inspector of
Navigation office in Tullamore. This was undertaken to avoid the practice of boat owners
with vessels in need of major repairs moving to another office where their boat was
unknown to get a permit, when they had been advised by the Inspectorate that the vessel
did not comply with the bye-laws and in its current condition would not be issued with a
permit for the craft.
Changes to the application process included additional contact details for owners, details of
co-owners, and the requirement to confirm third party liability insurance for the vessel.
The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) objected to the revised indemnity
wording which was modified to try and meet their feedback, but some members of IWAI
remained unhappy the original wording on the CMP and the revised wording is set out
below for ease of reference:
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Original Wording
I hereby agree to indemnify Waterways Ireland against any claim for loss or
damage to property or injury to persons arising out of the use of the facilities
provided by Waterways Ireland on the canals.
Revised Wording under Section 4 (Declarations)
I/We hereby indemnify Waterways Ireland, its servants and agents in full from and
against any loss, damages, proceedings and costs incurred by, or taken against
Waterways Ireland as a result of my negligent acts, or breach, or those of any
person authorised by me, through my holding of a Permit for use of any of the
Navigations under Waterways Ireland’s remit (excluding any loss caused negligently
or deliberately by Waterways Ireland its servants and agents).
With the EMP there was also the introduction of a security deposit of €250 refundable at
the end of the one year licence, if the mooring and associated towpath land was left in a
clean and tidy condition. This was introduced to encourage boat owners not to leave
litter/refuse/waste oil/old ovens, etc on the canal bank for Waterways Ireland to dispose of
at a significant cost to the public purse or just abandon their vessels. Waterways Ireland
may only use the deposit to recover costs incurred in dealing with clearing waste or damage
left by a boat owner. There is no appeal mechanism and this is an area which we are
actively considering, how we can provide such a mechanism.
Waterways Ireland also trained its lockkeepers to assist the Assistant Inspector of
Navigation in bye-law enforcement in these areas and in recording boat movements.
All of this work was undertaken to begin to address barriers to developing the canals for
boat use, specifically:
1. The boat population was permanently clustered in key locations for example at
Hazelhatch, Sallins, Lowtown, Shannon Harbour and boats did not move. Waterways
Ireland had some evidence boaters were afraid to move and lose their mooring
space in key locations. No-one could cruise and get a mooring in prime village
locations, such as Sallins, because all of the key moorings in the villages were
permanently occupied by private owners.
2. There was also encroachment onto navigation property where boat owners had
illegally installed services such as electric or water or made steps on canal banks for
access to their permanently moored craft. Further, issues relating to effluent
disposal existed in some locations.
3. Due to the low levels of fees it is cheaper to abandon a boat on Waterways Ireland
property than dispose of same, and this cost of disposal then falls to Waterways
Ireland. Waterways Ireland has actively been working at removing abandoned or
sunken vessels over the past number of years, with two sunken boats removed from
Shannon Harbour in February.
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Waterways Ireland’s only means of redress at present for boat owners, where they can be
identified, who breach the bye-laws is to remove the vessel from the navigation. This is
expensive and only occurs at the end of a long process seeking to have the boat owner take
responsibility for their vessel. Boat owners are notified their vessel is in breach firstly with a
notification sticker placed on the boat, then letters, telephone calls, visits to the vessel and
finally service of a formal Bye-law notice.
DRAFT CANALS ACT, 1986 (AMENDMENT) BYE-LAWS 2014
The Draft Canals Act, 1986 (Amendment) Bye-Laws 2014 add to the Canals Act, 1986 (ByeLaws) 1988 and have been drafted to provide Waterways Ireland with an improved ability to
manage a number of the problem areas outlined.
1. They provide a number of definitions to clarify what permits are required.
2. They make provision for the regulation and management of houseboats – a boat
someone lives on as their principle or main residence. There is no reference or
provision for this type of use in the Canals Act, 1986 (Bye-Laws), 1988 which allows
the canals to be used in this manner.
There are 45 houseboats currently on the navigations. Waterways Ireland recognises these
can in the appropriate locations and with appropriate services add to the vibrancy and use
of the canals.
The existing houseboat population has developed without regulation or services.
The new bye-laws change the old maximum stay at one location on the canals from the
Canals Act, 1986 (Bye-Laws), 1988 bye-law 25. (1)
Existing Bye-law 25.(1)
25. (1) No person shall moor a boat—
(d) at the same place on the canals, or within 500 metres of the same place, for more
than 5 days without the appropriate permit from the Commissioners.
Proposed Draft Canals Act, 1986 (Amendment) Bye-Laws 2014
The Canals Act 1986, (Bye-Laws), 1988 is hereby amended by the substitution of the
following paragraph (d):
(d) at the same place on the canals, or within three kilometres of the location for more than
5 consecutive days, or a total of 7 days in any calendar month, without the appropriate
permit from Waterways Ireland. The period of days shall be reckoned from the day the boat
moored and shall be included in the period.
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The change is to ensure boat owners do not shuttle permanently between two key central
locations effectively continuing to block these for touring boat use and never making a
passage on the canals.
In addition, it should be noted that any boat owner may contact the Assistant Inspector of
Navigation and obtain approval to leave a boat beyond five days in an agreed location. This
is already widely used and there will be no change in the use of this discretion in the future.
The Draft Canals Act, 1986 (Amendment) Bye-Laws 2014 also provide a mechanism to
modernise charges, the first increase in 24 years.
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The Combined Mooring & Passage Permit (CMP) rises from €126 to €130 per annum.
This is the charge for a boat to use the canals and pass through the lock gates.
The Extended Mooring Permit (EMP) currently costs €152 per annum [maximum
charge under the Canals Act, 1986 (Bye-Laws), 1988] – this will change to a range of
charges from €160 to €1,600 per annum, depending on location, services, length of
boat. An exception to this will be an EMP in Grand Canal Dock which will cost a
proposed fee of €2,500 per annum. The range of charges has been specifically
proposed to ensure that there will be a choice for boat owners from low cost
moorings in rural areas to moorings in key locations with services. The range of fee
available is also intended to future proof the charging regime and provide for
increases in the years to come. On the other navigations there are well developed
private marina businesses which provide the home moorings for boat owners for a
commercial fee. This has not happened on the canals due to the very low level of
charges.
Houseboat moorings is a new charge introduced in the Draft Canals Act, 1986
(Amendment) Bye-Laws 2014. The proposed cost ranges from €1,250 for a location
such as Shannon Harbour to €3,500 per annum in a city centre location such as the
Grand Canal Dock. Currently Waterways Ireland has six houseboat moorings in
Shannon Harbour with access for mooring/water/electricity, and work on a €0.5m
project is underway in Sallins to enhance the moorings in the village and provide a
number of houseboat moorings.
A Visitor Permit is also being introduced which will allow free cruising and passage
through locks for 30 days. This is to encourage boats to come onto the canals. To
stay for longer than 30 days a boat owner will have to purchase a CMP at €130 and
will then be able to spend up to a year exploring the canals.
Barrow open fishing boat licence – annual fee of €50. This will enable Waterways
Ireland to provide for and regulate this use.
Tolls. The Draft Canals Act, 1986 (Amendment) Bye-Laws 2014 modernise the old
charge which was IR£10 and propose a fee of €25 to open Newcomen Bridge,
Camden Lock, Buckingham Lock, Westmoreland Lock, Grand Canal Dock, Ringsend
Lock and Spencer Dock see lock. (Waterways Ireland paid €10,000 to Coras Iompair
Eireann (CIE) in 2013 for fees for a total of eight lifts of Newcomen Bridge.)
Use of dry docks. The fee to use a dry dock under the Canals Act, 1986 (Bye-Laws),
1988 was IR£11 per day (€13.90). This is too low to encourage effective use of these
limited and valuable facilities. It is cheaper to put a boat in dry dock and leave it
there than to lift it out and store the boat on hard standing. The new charge
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proposed is €50 for the first seven days, increasing to €75 for next seven days and
then €100 per day thereafter. This fee structure is to encourage owners to plan,
repair work effectively, do what is necessary in dry dock and then remove the boat
and leave the facility free of the next user.
Waterways Ireland has had representation from the Heritage Boat Association about
an accommodation for heritage boats on a cyclical basis 20-25 years for major hull
repairs and the excessive costs the new charge would incur for the longer time this
work will require. We are considering how we might accommodate this use for
these large and heavy vessels.
The Draft Canals Act, 1986 (Amendment) Bye-Laws 2014 also propose the introduction of a
fixed payment notice which was provided for in the 2005 Maritime Safety Act. A bye-law
amendment is required to make this available for use. The fixed penalty fine is €150 or
prosecution. This is being introduced to provide Waterways Ireland with another deterrent
to boat owners who persistently breach the bye-laws.
Waterways Ireland is a recreational navigation authority, its management regime is focused
on management by agreement and this will not change. Boats are only removed from the
navigation at the end of an extensive process. The use of the fixed penalty notice will follow
a similar pathway.
THE FUTURE OF THE HERITAGE VESSEL THE NAOMH ÉANNA
Background
Waterways Ireland owns the Grand Canal Dock and Spencer Dock which are its two most
important assets in Dublin City.
The Grand Canal and Royal Canals date from the 18th century and represent a significant
piece of both urban and industrial heritage. Grand Canal Dock was opened in 1796 with
three graving docks primarily used for ship repair. The dock areas have significant heritage
value to the city and country. The Dublin City Council Record of Protected Structures
references a number of bridges e.g. North Wall Quay 2 swing bridges, Newcomen Bridge,
the triple sea-locks of Camden, Westmoreland and Buckingham at the River Liffey/Grand
Canal Dock and a number of structures in the vicinity of the Docks. Significant investment in
excess of €6 million has been made by Waterways Ireland in the Grand Canal Dock in
regeneration, restoration, repair and conservation.
Over the past number of years Waterways Ireland has been progressing removal of sunken
or abandoned boats in the dock and on the canals. To date Waterways Ireland has spent
€176,271 removing vessels.
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A further two vessels (see photos below) are currently impounded having failed to be
removed by their owners. These will either be returned on payment of the removal costs or
sold by Waterways Ireland to recover costs.
The Naomh Éanna
The Naomh Éanna was built by the Liffey Dockyard and launched in 1958/59, the vessel
served as the Aran Island Ferry until 1988 when it was retired from service as it could no
longer comply with Marine Safety legislation for use as a passenger vessel.
The minutes of a CIE meeting in 1989 state that CIE were to scrap the vessel and that it was
sold to Arklow Engineering Services Ltd.
Arklow Engineering Services sold the vessel to the Irish Nautical Trust (INT) [formerly Dublin
Nautical Trust] in May 1989 and the vessel entered into Grand Canal Dock.
Waterways Ireland entered negotiations with the INT in 2012 to examine the Trust’s
activities in the Grand Canal Dock and on the Naomh Éanna, concerned about the condition
of the vessel, its appearance and the ability of the INT to refurbish the vessel or manage the
consequences of a catastrophic failure and the vessel sinking in the Dock.
A condition survey carried out by the INT on 10 April 2013 is attached at Appendix A.
The Board of the INT accepted an offer by Waterways Ireland to dispose of the vessel which
due to its hull condition the Harbour Master will not allow to leave the Dock. The INT lacked
the means to fund the significant repairs needed to the vessel, and the vessel had no
insurance. Waterways Ireland was advised that the Naomh Éanna is not considered a
“wreck”, it is not 100 years old or over, nor is it associated with any event. There is no
legislation that requires that this vessel be preserved or protected. The MV Cill Airne which
was built in the Liffey Docks during the same period as the Naomh Éanna and is of the same
construction has already been restored fully at considerable expense and is afloat and used
as a restaurant in Dublin at present.
The Naomh Éanna Trust acknowledged they could not meet the costs of saving the vessel. It
has been agreed that any items from the salvage of particular interest will be kept by the
INT.
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Waterways Ireland assisted the INT to relocate the two businesses on board; arranged
access to the dry dock owned by NAMA under licence and commissioned the disposal of the
vessel in the dry dock as the safest option for its orderly disposal.
Minister Deenihan has offered to 31st March for interested parties to provide detailed
business plans with evidence of funding. The vessel has been invaded at least once to our
knowledge in the dry dock and we have written to the individuals where they are known to
us regarding this trespass and giving clear notice to keep out of the area.
Once in the dry dock Waterways Ireland was in a position to determine if there was
additional asbestos on the vessel. McCusker Environmental Ltd undertook an asbestos
survey of the vessel which identified the presence of Chrysotile (White Asbestos, which is
the most dangerous form) on the vessel and is in an unsafe condition. Areas where it is
present have been cordoned off. In addition, other types of asbestos have also been
identified and will require specialist disposal.
In light of the asbestos danger on board Waterways Ireland is seeking the following
information prior to permission to access being granted:
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Proof of agreement from the Irish Nautical Trust.
A risk assessment and method statement to undertake the survey of the vessel.
The Safe Operating Procedure and details of PPE to be used.
Evidence of appropriate insurances to undertake the ship survey under its current
conditions.
A deed of indemnity.
Details of those wishing to attend.
The time required for the survey operation.
Proposed safe means of access.
Notification of and agreement for the date/s for access.
Waterways Ireland’s proposed estimated costs for disposal of the vessel are in the range
€130k to €150k.
Additional costs of €8,700 have been incurred as a result of the delay to 31 March 2014.
These costs will escalate if additional site security is required to prevent breaches of the site
by unauthorised persons, the cost of reinforcing the security fencing at €5,000 plus €13,500
to employ the services of a security company to have manned security on the site 24 hours
per day.
Waterways Ireland’s actions in seeking to secure the orderly disposal of the Naomh Éanna
have been to safeguard the heritage of the Grand Canal Dock.
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Opening Statement Waterways Ireland 25-3-14