TDs and Senators critics new fees for canal usage
Boats leaving the Grand and Royal canals because of new regulations, says waterways association
Bylaws proposed by Waterways Ireland will see a range of charges rise significantly as the authority tries to draw waterways users to the canals and prevent boats from blocking key moorings. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Plans to introduce charges of up to €3,500 per year for houseboats on the Grand and Royal canals and the river Barrow have been criticised by TDs and Senators.
New bylaws proposed by Waterways Ireland will see a range of charges rise significantly as the authority tries to draw waterways users to the canals and prevent traditional “harbour hoggers” from blocking key moorings.
There is particular anger among boat owners about a fixed-notice fine of €150 for boats that remain at the same public mooring for more than five consecutive days, rising to a fine of €5,000 on court conviction.
Addressing the Oireachtas Committee on the Environment, Waterways Ireland chief executive Dawn Livingstone said there were some 14,000 boats registered on inland waterways, under the body’s remit, of which just 500 were based on the canals and the Barrow.
She said the regulations aimed to encourage boaters into the canals and the Barrow, and to ensure that there were moorings available for them. Waterways Ireland was putting in moorings for houseboats, mooring places for cruisers and modern waterside facilities. She said the Waterways cruising business was worth €80-€100 million to the exchequers north and south.
However the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland and the Heritage Boat Association said boats were leaving the canals and the Barrow due to the proposed charges.
Fine Gael TD James Bannon said the regulations had the potential to see the affected waterways fall into disuse and “total reconsideration” of the plans was required.
Fianna Fáil environment spokesman Barry Cowen called for a “negotiated agreement” as opposed to the imposition of rules. Independent TD Catherine Murphy said the regulations failed “to put waterways users centre stage”.