Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin [SF, Cavan-Monaghan] in the Dáil on 5 February 2014:
There is no excuse for either the British or the Irish Governments to stand over any delay in advancing with key cross-Border infrastructural projects such as the Carlingford Narrow Water bridge and the Ulster Canal. With regard to the Ulster Canal, I have been in touch with the office of the Northern Ireland Minister for Culture, Arts and Leisure, Carál Ní Chuilín MLA, my party colleague. She assures me that both she and her counterpart here, the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Deputy Jimmy Deenihan, are fully committed to this project, and I welcome that affirmation. As I pointed out in the debate on the Six Counties last year, the North-South Ministerial Council agreed to proceed with the Ulster Canal project in 2007. In the intervening period, we have seen the economic collapse in this State and a parallel contraction in the North. Despite this, the Ulster Canal project was kept alive.
Permission was granted last year for the Northern section by Environment Minister, Alex Atwood, and by Clones Town Council and Monaghan County Council for the section in this jurisdiction.
The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Deputy Jimmy Deenihan, has advised that the earliest the contract could be awarded would be late 2014 with a completion date in spring 2017. I urge the Minister to do all in his power to expedite this process and to encourage his colleagues to do so. I also urge him to maximise the possible EU funding for the project from the Peace IV programme.
The Ulster Canal project is about greatly enhancing one of the finest landscapes in Ireland for locals and tourists alike, regenerating rural areas that have long been neglected and delivering a tangible peace dividend to Border communities that were neglected for far too long. It is time to get the work on the ground under way.
Yes …. Sinn Féin’s faith in the economic potential of canals is touching, if slightly worrying for anyone who believes that the world economy has changed since the late eighteenth century.
But wait: as far as I can see, SF is one of the few groups that has not asked Jimmy Deenihan about Waterways Ireland’s proposed new byelaws, which might force boaters to pay slightly more of the cost of their hobby. Perhaps SF is secretly hoping that user charges on the Clones Sheugh will be high enough to pay at least the interest on the construction cost? That would be nice.