Thanks to KildareStreet.com for alerting me to this written Dáil answer, to two questions, on Inland Waterways Development on 30 May 2013.
Clare Daly [Socialist Party, Dublin North]: To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will engage with local stakeholders to develop a waterways strategy that facilitates those who want to live on houseboats.
Clare Daly [Socialist Party, Dublin North]: To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he will outline the contact he has had with Waterways Ireland to promote and facilitate houseboats as an alternative lifestyle choice, potential amenity and tourist asset.
Jimmy Deenihan [FG Kerry North/West Limerick]: I propose to take Questions Nos. 34 and 36 together. As the Deputy will be aware, I directly engage with Waterways Ireland through the Inland Waterways meetings of the North South Ministerial Council. I should say that officials in my Department also have ongoing engagement with Waterways Ireland and meet directly with the organisation on a regular basis. The issues referred to by the Deputy are operational matters for Waterways Ireland. However, I have been informed by Waterways Ireland that they have installed facilities for houseboats at Shannon Harbour and are in the process of developing facilities at Lowtown and Sallins.
I am also informed that Waterways Ireland is currently in negotiations in relation to the change of use of berths in Grand Canal Dock from short term mooring to long term mooring to facilitate houseboats. These developments are part of Waterways Ireland’s recognition of the potential amenity, tourism and lifestyle benefits that well managed houseboat locations with suitable houseboats can bring to the navigation network within its remit.
As regards engagement with local stakeholders in the development of a water strategy that facilitates houseboat dwellers, again this is an operational matter for Waterways Ireland. I encourage and support such engagement with local stakeholders. Waterways Ireland has informed me that they will continue to take into account the views of all its stakeholders when formulating policy in relation to the use of the waterways.
So “well managed houseboat locations with suitable houseboats”? Some current adopters of the “alternative lifestyle choice” may be worried about that. I don’t know what Ms Daly hoped to achieve there, but I don’t think Jimmy Deenihan was giving much away.
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