Man left homeless after Waterways Ireland seize his house boat

Waterways body claims Anthony Hall’s houseboat was 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

 

A Co Kildare man has been left homeless after the boat he was living on was seized by Waterways Ireland (WI), who claimed it was was an “illegal construction”.

Anthony Hall, a Kildare County Council staff member from Celbridge, is now staying with a friend after his vessel was removed from the Grand Canal at Lowtown by WI while he was at work earlier this month.

Mr Hall floated his vessel, comprised of a steel cabin structure on top of large plastic barrels to provide buoyancy within the frames, in April.

Speaking to The Irish Times on Wednesday, Mr Hall said he spoke to two WI staff members on his boat on May 19th where, as some fittings still needed to be attached to the vessel and had not yet been sourced, he was told he would be given time to make necessary changes to the vessel and to pay an annual mooring fee of €126.

Mr Hall subsequently received a letter from WI, the cross-Border body which manages the island’s waterways, on May 21st serving him notice to remove the vessel from the water by May 31st.

Mr Hall paid the €126 fee by registered post upon receipt of this notice making reference.

“I had no correspondence back from that letter . . . I went to work on Wednesday morning, June 2nd, I came back and the boat was gone.”

Anthony Hall’s boat before it was removed. Photograph: Anthony Hall
Anthony Hall’s boat before it was removed. Photograph: Anthony Hall

Neighbours told Mr Hall the boat was removed during the day and four members of An Garda Síochána were present during the removal. The vessel has been removed to Shannon Harbour in Co Offaly. It still contained most of Mr Hall’s clothes and possessions.

The removal notice said that WI are now seeking a payment of €2,447 for costs incurred in the removal of the vessel. WI advised Mr Hall that failure to reclaim the vessel by July 5th will result in it being disposed of by public tender or it would be destroyed.

“I sent them the fee in the meantime after getting the notice . . . they sent it back to me when my boat was out of the water. They sent the letters to me through my work address.

“I knew there were people living on canals all over the country . . . it has been done, people are living on them . . . I just thought I was going to take a slice of the pie because I couldn’t afford rent.”

“Making me homeless after 10 days is downright wrong,” Mr Hall said.

Mr Hall has spent roughly €8,500 building his boat to a high standard, including equipping it with solar panels and a wind turbine.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Liveline Mr Hall said: “‘My house is gone. They took it, they loaded it up onto a low loader, and they took it to Shannon Harbour in Offaly, on the other side of the country.

“They’re billing me for the lift, the haulage, the crane, the low loader, staff – there were four gardaí present as well to take me out of my home. I don’t understand it whatsoever, it was crazy.”

In an earlier statement on Wednesday, WI said “Waterways Ireland removed an illegal construction from the navigation, in compliance with the bye-laws. The bye-laws are clear on what constitutes a boat, and a set of barrels with a garden shed on top does not meet the minimum safety, seaworthy or navigation criteria. Ample opportunity was given for the owner to remove it. The owner can have his construction returned when he pays the cost of the removal and commits to not returning it to the waterway.

“The structure is stored securely in a Waterways Ireland location. When WI holds property removed from the navigation for breach of the bye-laws, the owner is advised to contact us with proof of ownership and make the payment to cover the cost of the removal. A date is then agreed when the property can be removed from the store, on condition it is not returned to the waterway.”

WI did not provide an updated response to The Irish Times at the time of publication.