Case against Waterways on blocked access to canal


A CO Dublin landowner has begun a legal action aimed at having Waterways Ireland remove concrete bollards from a towpath adjacent to the Royal Canal.

Kenneth O’Reilly, Three Gates, Scribblestown, Dublin, has brought the action arising out of Waterways Ireland’s decision to erect two cement posts which he claims have prevented him from bringing machinery on to property he owns near the canal. He claims the action amounts to a breach of his right of way over the path.

Waterways Ireland is responsible for the management of both the canal and the towpath.

In his action, Mr O’Reilly is seeking an order from the court directing Waterways Ireland to remove the cement bollards on the towpath between the 10th and 11th locks of the canal at Ashtown, Castleknock, Co Dublin.

He is further seeking permanent injunctions prohibiting the erection of any further obstructions along the towpath that would interfere with his right of way and from interfering with his right of way over the towpath along the canal adjacent to his lands.

He is also seeking a declaration that Waterways Ireland’s actions amount to a nuisance. At the High Court yesterday Mr Justice Gerard Hogan granted Mr O’Reilly permission, following an ex parte (one side only) application, to bring proceedings.

In adjourning the matter, the judge said he very much hoped the parties could mediate the differences between them.

Moving the application, Michael Vallely, for Mr O’Reilly, said for many years his client had been using the towpath to access his lands which adjoin the Royal Canal. He used the path as a vehicular access to his lands.

Mr O’Reilly, who is a member of the Irish Polo Club, also used the path to exercise his horses.

Mr Vallely said Waterways Ireland had accepted Mr O’Reilly had a right of way over the towpath and had provided him with a key to open a steel barrier placed across the path some years ago.

However, last December, without warning, two cement barriers were placed behind the steel barrier. As a result, Mr O’Reilly was unable to pass the barrier by vehicle. In particular, he could not move cutting equipment used to maintain a ditch inside the perimeter of his land into position.

The ditch needed to be trimmed in order to provide proper drainage for the land, Mr Vallely added. This work needed to be done at this time of year, as the good weather increased the growth rate of the ditches.

Mr Vallely said Mr O’Reilly contacted Waterways Ireland asking it to remove the bollards, but the only response was a warning telling him he would be committing a criminal offence if he moved the cement posts. He was also informed the barrier was erected due to damage being caused to the towpath.

Mr O’Reilly said he was unaware of any damage and if it was done, it was not done by him, Mr Vallely added.