The Waterways Ireland Corporate Plan 2011–2013 [PDF] tells us how the body is funded:
Waterways Ireland receives grants from money voted by the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Houses of the Oireachtas. At present 15% of recurrent or maintenance funding is provided by the Assembly in Northern Ireland and 85% by the Irish Government reflecting the current distribution of the navigable waterways, while capital development works carried out by Waterways Ireland are funded separately by the jurisdiction where the works are carried out.
This is not new information; I quote it here only for convenience (but note how “the Houses of the Oireachtas” becomes “the Irish Government”).
Now look at these figures from Annex C of the Corporate Plan. They show, for 2011, the proposed budget for current expenditure on each waterway. I have rearranged them in descending order of amount:
- Grand Canal €4,559,160
- Shannon Navigation €4,240,398
- Royal Canal €2,713,052
- Barrow Navigation €1,296,538
- Shannon–Erne Waterway €1,269,450
- Erne System €380,239
- Lower Bann €375,270.
It would be interesting to compare the value for money offered by each waterway. However, it would be necessary to allow for the non-navigational responsibilities WI has for each waterway: for example, it has to look after a lot more bridges on the Grand Canal than it does on the Erne. I do not have enough information to make valid comparisons.
My immediate interest is in the figures for the Erne and the Lower Bann. Granted, the burdens on WI are in some respects lower than for other waterways. But the two northern waterways are getting a total of €755,509 spent on them out of a waterways total of €14,834,107, which is about 5%. Yet the NI Assembly is paying 15% of WI’s current expenditure.
Perhaps I’m missing something. I would welcome enlightenment.