Fundraiser launched to help man whose houseboat was seized

Waterways Ireland has deemed Anthony Hall’s self-build craft an ‘illegal construction’

Anthony Hall’s boat when it was moored at Lowtown in Co Kildare. Photograph: Anthony Hall

Anthony Hall’s boat when it was moored at Lowtown in Co Kildare. Photograph: Anthony Hall

 

An online fundraiser has been launched in aid of a man whose self-build houseboat was seized by Waterways Ireland (WI).

Anthony Hall, who had lived on the boat since April, returned from work on June 2nd to find that his vessel had been lifted from the Grand Canal at Lowtown in Co Kildare after he was served notice to remove it from the canal by WI who deemed it to be an “illegal construction”.

The GoFundMe page has been set up by a friend of Mr Hall’s to help recover the boat from a WI facility in Shannon Bridge, Co Offaly. The funds will cover a fee of €2,447 to be paid to WI and transporting the boat back to Co Kildare.

Mr Hall said the funds will be donated to a charity for the homeless if his boat is release back to him. By Tuesday morning, the appeal was just shy of its target of €4,500.

The waterways body had informed Mr Hall that the boat’s construction is in breach of the Canals Act 1986 which states: “No person shall place or use any structure, tent, caravan, or vehicle as a dwelling on canal property, except with the written permission of the commissioners.”

It added: “In order to secure a permit, boats must meet the criteria and hold insurance in advance of launching on to the navigation.”

Mr Hall said his houseboat was not equipped with an engine at the time two WI officials visited him on May 19th but he maintains he was told he would be given time to make changes to bring the craft in line with the rules. He was advised to pay a €126 mooring permit which he subsequently did; this was returned to him when his houseboat was seized. He said he spent almost €9,000 to build the boat on dry land, before floating it in April.

Edmund Sweetman, a barrister specialising in maritime law and president of the Irish Maritime Law Association, said “there is no sole legal definition of a vessel”.

“The canal bylaws define a ‘boat’, the subject matter of the regulations, [to include a] barge, vessel or any other water craft, which is quite a broad definition.”

He added; “The powers under the canal bylaws provide for the issuing of permits, but the requirement or prohibition on use of the canal without such a permit is less than clear.”