It is possible that the NI Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure has been putting pressure on the republic’s Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, to get it to start shovelling Saunderson’s Sheugh, because DCAL was aware of its own impending demise. According to Peter Robinson, speaking to the Northern Ireland Assembly on 2 March 2015:
The Stormont House Agreement of 23 December 2014 included a commitment that the number of Departments should be reduced from 12 to nine in time for the 2016 Assembly election, with the new allocation of departmental functions to be agreed by the parties. […]
The Department for Communities will combine the existing functions of DSD with most DCAL functions, with the exceptions being inland fisheries and waterways. […]
The Department for Infrastructure will exercise the existing responsibilities of DRD, but will also take on a range of functions from other existing Departments: vehicle regulation, road safety and Driver and Vehicle Agency functions from DOE; the Rivers Agency from DARD; inland waterways from DCAL; and, from OFMDFM, the strategic investment unit and several regeneration sites, including the Crumlin Road Gaol.
I’m sure that, for some waterways folk, it would be a relief to be back in with engineers. And, if the Department for Infrastructure goes to a Unionist in 2016, all sorts of things might change. But by then there might be enough Sheughery to get Carál and Heather reelected, and it might not matter if there were no more money after the River Finn had been dredged to Castle Saunderson.