Tag Archives: funding

A sense of proportion

Waterways Ireland’s funding comes from Ireland [RoI] and Northern Ireland [NI] in the ratio 85:15. I understand that the ratio reflects the length of WI-run waterway in each jurisdiction, although I am not sure how length is measured on lakes.

The proportions of boats in the two jurisdictions are not 85:15. As of December 2013 there were 5570 boats on the Erne Register and 8816 on the Shannon Register. These numbers may or may not reflect the numbers of boats on the waterways as (a) there may be unregistered boats and (b) folk may not always deregister boats that have moved off the navigation. I do not know how many boats there are on the Lower Bann; boats on the Shannon–Erne Waterway should be on either the Erne or the Shannon Register.

Waterways Ireland reckoned that there were 520 boats on the Grand, Royal and Barrow at the end of 2013. Adding them to the Shannon number gives us

  • RoI 9336
  • NI (excl Lr Bann) 5570.

The ratio is RoI 63, NI 37.

On programme costs, though, matters are otherwise. Granted that the 2011 figures, the most recent available, may not be representative of long-term average costs: the Royal has not been reopened long enough for us to get such a long-term average, and the 2011 figure may be unusually high.

The other difficulty is with the allocation of the costs of the Shannon–Erne Waterway. I have arbitrarily divided it 50/50 between the two jurisdictions, although they probably exaggerates the proportion attributable to NI.

Shannon + Royal + Grand + Barrow + ½ SEW = €7275000

Erne + Lower Bann + ½ SEW = €807000

The ratio is RoI 90%, NI 10%.


  • funding: NI 15%
  • number of boats: NI 37%
  • spending: NI 10%.

All subject to caveats.

No particular point: I just thought it was interesting.

Northern subsidy?

The Waterways Ireland Corporate Plan 2011–2013 [PDF] tells us how the body is funded:

Waterways Ireland receives grants from money voted by the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Houses of the Oireachtas. At present 15% of recurrent or maintenance funding is provided by the Assembly in Northern Ireland and 85% by the Irish Government reflecting the current distribution of the navigable waterways, while capital development works carried out by Waterways Ireland are funded separately by the jurisdiction where the works are carried out.

This is not new information; I quote it here only for convenience (but note how “the Houses of the Oireachtas” becomes “the Irish Government”).

Now look at these figures from Annex C of the Corporate Plan. They show, for 2011, the proposed budget for current expenditure on each waterway. I have rearranged them in descending order of amount:

  • Grand Canal €4,559,160
  • Shannon Navigation €4,240,398
  • Royal Canal €2,713,052
  • Barrow Navigation €1,296,538
  • Shannon–Erne Waterway €1,269,450
  • Erne System €380,239
  • Lower Bann €375,270.

It would be interesting to compare the value for money offered by each waterway. However, it would be necessary to allow for the non-navigational responsibilities WI has for each waterway: for example, it has to look after a lot more bridges on the Grand Canal than it does on the Erne. I do not have enough information to make valid comparisons.

My immediate interest is in the figures for the Erne and the Lower Bann. Granted, the burdens on WI are in some respects lower than for other waterways. But the two northern waterways are getting a total of €755,509 spent on them out of a waterways total of €14,834,107, which is about 5%. Yet the NI Assembly is paying 15% of WI’s current expenditure.

Perhaps I’m missing something. I would welcome enlightenment.


The Ulster Canal

A modest proposal here for funding the canal.

Funding the Ulster Canal

I go away for a week and suddenly there’s lots of information about the funding of the Ulster Canal …. Happily, I was on the Erne, so I was able to read the Anglo-Celt, the Leitrim Observer and the Impartial Reporter, and was thus able to keep up with the news.

The really extraordinary thing, no doubt the result of an amazing coincidence, is that this sudden access of information comes just as I expect a ruling from the Office of the Information Commissioner on my appeal against Craggy Island’s refusal to give me any meaningful information about the funding of the project.

My last letter to Craggy Island on the subject was a request for an internal review of their refusal; as expected, that too resulted in a refusal, which enabled me to go to the Information Commissioner. You might, nonetheless, be interested to read my letter.

I will comment later on the content of the recent relevations and on how they’ve been spun; happily, Ewan Duffy was not deceived by the spin.

Let joy be unconfined

I was really worried today. Yesterday was the deadline for Craggy Island, the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs, to respond to my Freedom of Information Request for info on funding of the Clones (formerly Ulster) Canal, the insane project being pushed by Craggy Island. So I expected the response in today’s post.

I have been maintaining that Craggy Island hasn’t got the money and doesn’t know where it’s going to get it. But if they granted my FOI request, and showed funding streams providing lots of lovely lolly going into a hole in the ground over the next several years, I’d look a bit of an idiot. It wouldn’t take much to shut me up, though: just a tiny bit of evidence (a memo from the Department of Finance, say, or a budget or projected cashflow) that the money was available.

So imagine my joy when I got a four-page letter, an eight-page schedule of documents (showing, for most of them, why I couldn’t see them) and a pile of miscellaneous crap –ministerial speeches and suchlike — that I was allowed to see.

My faith is reinforced. They haven’t got the money. But I’m going to help, by appealing the decision and thus contributing even more to the departmental coffers.

Guten Abend, meine Damen und Herren

I regret that I do not know German, so I’m relying on Google Translate, but I thought I’d greet those who have been visiting this site from German-language sites in the past week, mostly to read about the (Ulster) Canal to Clones.

It is good that German visitors are interested in the canal, because I suspect that the German taxpayer will be paying for it. The Greeks may have to borrow to bridge the gap between their taxes (too low) and their public spending, including pay and pensions (too high). Ireland has that problem too, as well as a banking problem, but it is also borrowing to invest … in a canal. A canal that will never meet its running costs, never mind recouping the construction cost, and that will not generate enough external benefits to justify the spending.

Arthur Young wrote this about Irish canals in 1780:

There is such a want of public spirit, of candour and of care for the interests of posterity in such a conduct, that it cannot be branded with an expression too harsh, or a condemnation too pointed: nor less deserving of severity is it, if flowing from political and secret motives of burthening the public revenues to make private factions the more important.

Other news

My comment has still not appeared on the Clones Regeneration Partnership blog.

Saving the Clones investors

I’ve moved most of the original contents of this post to Ulster Canal 13.

I mentioned elsewhere that the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs is known to some people as Craggy Island. Wikipedia tells us that

The real Craggy Island seen from helicopter shots is Inisheer.

And we learn in today’s Irish Times that Craggy Island is helping to provide subsidised electric cars on the Aran Islands including Inisheer (Inis Oirr), the “real Craggy Island”.

In other news

My most recent email to the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs about the funding of the canal has not yet had a response.

My Freedom of Information request to the Department of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs about the funding of the canal has been acknowledged.

Budget 2011: Waterways Ireland

Money to be paid by Dept of Community, Equality and Gaeltacht Affairs to Waterways Ireland in 2011:

  • current expenditure down from €25,585,000 to €24,335,000 (I make that a cut of just under 5%)
  • capital expenditure down from €8,000,000 to €6,000,000 (25%)
  • total down from €33,585,000 to €30,335,000 (about 10%).