Pam Brown (DUP) asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure whether inland waterways could be developed to provide a major leisure and recreational activity resource.
Carál Ní Chuilín (Sinn Féin; Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure): Waterways Ireland is one of the all-Ireland bodies that my Department has responsibility for. You can see the value of the work that it does, particularly in rural areas. I am also working with some councils to improve some of the waterways within their control. I agree with the Member that inland waterways provide brilliant opportunities not just for tourism but for local leisure. They are the economic driver in some towns and villages.
Pam Brown (DUP): I thank the Minister for her answer. She has touched on my supplementary question. Does the Minister agree that the development of inland waterways, while a great source of leisure and recreational activities, can also act as a catalyst for urban and rural regeneration?
Carál Ní Chuilín (Sinn Féin): I agree. I made a statement to the House in July, I think, about some of the events that take place at inland waterways across the island. Those events include festivals and family fun days. Huge numbers attend those events, and they act as economic drivers. Not only are those responsible keen to make sure that they are further developed, but people from other areas visit those festivals in towns and villages to see how they can extract that product for their area. They see the potential and outcome of those events.
That’s good: nice cheap family fun days, not expensive and unnecessary waterway restorations.