Waterways Ireland is being forced to pay €2 million to dredge the River Finn to Castle Saunderson. This new sheugh is to be called the Ulster Canal.
Waterways Ireland’s wicked stepmother, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, has failed to convince the government to come up with any money to fund this insane project. It has therefore decided to force Waterways Ireland to pay for it, at a time when WI’s budget has been cut by 31% over the past six years. That suggests to me that the parent departments, DAHG and the Northern Ireland Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, are prepared to let the other waterways go hang in favour of a pointless extension of the Erne navigation.
As the project will be funded from Waterways Ireland’s own resources, additional Exchequer funding will not be required.
Not that Waterways Ireland has any spare money, and it has very few surplus assets. Some years ago DAHG’s predecessor proposed to sell Plot 8, in the Grand Canal Docks at Ringsend, to fund the Clones Sheugh, but the property collapse put a stop to that. It’s still the most valuable saleable asset and it was never clear to me how the property of Waterways Ireland could be seized by its wicked stepmother.
Waterways Ireland has to come up with €1.4 million of the €2 million cost of Saunderson’s Sheugh this year. It hopes to get €900,000 of that from the sale of property. Apart from Plot 8, it has only three surplus assets:
- Percy Place, valued at €650,000 in WI’s 2012 accounts
- 47 Lennox Street, valued at €195,000
- the Hatch Bar, which I presume to be the one at Hazelhatch [is there another?], valued at €45,000.
And that lot adds to €890,000. Add a few quid from the recent sale of old barges and you’ve got €900,000.
Given the details of the Hatch Bar in this Lisney PDF, I presume that what Waterways Ireland is selling is the freehold [but I’m not sure about this: if, Gentle Reader, you know more about it, please leave a Comment below]. Whoever buys it will have the satisfaction of knowing that they are helping to dig a ditch in Co Cavan.