I am happy to report that Maureen O’Sullivan TD [Ind, Dublin Central] asked some sensible written questions in the Dáil on 15 January 2014.
Under the rather odd heading “Waterways Ireland Remit“, she asked Jimmy Deenihan [FG, Kerry North/West Limerick; Minister for the City of Culture]
[…] if he will include work on land maps to determine what land abutting the canals is owned privately, by Waterways Ireland, the Railway Procurement Agency, Iarnrod Éireann, Dublin City Council, Office of Public Works or other; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The minister replied:
I am informed that Waterways Ireland already has an ongoing programme to modernise historic canal ownership maps and register navigation property in its ownership.
She put another question to Jimmy Deenihan under the same heading; you can see the link between the two questions:
[…] having regard to the prospective re-opening of the Royal Canal towpath at Portland Place in Summer 2014 further to the refurbishment of the collapsed wall at Portland Place and having regard also to the Spencer Dock Greenway Project and the re-lining works to be carried out at the sixth level, if he will direct Waterways Ireland to commission a strategic environment assessment for a new canal-side walkway along the south side of the sixth level of the Royal Canal at Phibsborough from Shandon Gardens to the railway bridge at the seventh lock with a new pedestrian crossing (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The only problem with this is that even getting an environmental assessment done is likely to strain WI’s budget at the moment, so it’s not a good time to be suggesting new expenditure. However, it didn’t matter in this case, as Jimmy Deenihan explained:
I am informed by Waterways Ireland that it does not own the lands on the southside of the Royal Canal between Shandon Gardens and the 7th lock, at Liffey Junction and therefore will not be commissioning a Strategic Environment Assessment for a new canalside walkway.
She also asked Alan Kelly [Labour, Tipperary North] about that:
[…] noting that it is the intention of the National Transport Authority to pursue a cycling and walking greenway along the Royal Canal in Dublin city, if he will ask Iarnród Eireann, the Railway Procurement Agency and Dublin City Council to assess the viability of opening a new walkway along the Royal Canal, 6th level, from Shandon Gardens to the 7th lock with a new footbridge at the 7th lock railway crossing linking to the existing Greenway route; if, in particular, this option will be explored alongside any re-lining work that might be undertaken by Waterways Ireland along that level.
The development of walking and cycling facilities within the Greater Dublin Area is a matter for the National Transport Authority (NTA) in conjunction with the relevant local authority, which is Dublin City Council in this case.
The NTA provides funding to local authorities for a range of schemes to benefit pedestrians, including new walkways, under the Sustainable Transport Management Grants Programme. Accordingly, I have sent your request to the NTA and have asked them to reply to you directly in relation to the above matter.
I’m all in favour of getting money from other people to pay for waterways.
Finally, under the heading of Inland Waterways Development, she had another question for Jimmy Deenihan:
[…] if he will explore all possible options within current fiscal constraints to advance and develop the potential of the Royal and Grand canal lines that pass through Dublin city; if he will establish an inter-agency group on the Dublin City reaches of the Royal and Grand canals; if he will explore ways to advance their development, examining funding options, including existing funding streams and the leveraging of funding from other sources and the possibility of EU funding which may be available.
I might say at this stage that I don’t see why TDs are asking ministers about stuff that they could find out themselves by asking WI directly. It’s not as though they’re going to get a lot of favourable publicity by doing so: this isn’t the PAC grilling a hospital or charity board and the meeja aren’t really interested.
Anyway, Jimmy Deenihan replied:
As the Deputy may be aware, the Dublin City Canals Study [PDF] was launched on 20th July 2010. This was prepared by consultants on behalf of Waterways Ireland, Fáilte Ireland, Dublin Docklands Development Authority and Dublin City Council. The study examined the existing activities on the Royal and Grand Canals and identified an overall vision for the development of the City Canals within the M50. I am advised that following on from the study an Operations Liaison Group plus two sub-groups (one for the Royal Canal and one for the Grand Canal) were established and continue to meet to deliver the recommendations identified, within the current fiscal constraints.
I am informed that to complement the above study, Waterways Ireland engaged additional consultants to carry out a detailed study of Grand Canal Dock and Spencer Dock with the objective of producing a Master Plan, currently at draft stage, that realises their potential as a recreational amenity and a living, vibrant part of Dublin and its Docklands. Waterways Ireland will continue to work collaboratively to unlock the pivotal role of these two major docks and to attract funding to develop a maritime quarter within the city of Dublin.
I wasn’t very impressed by the Dublin City Canals Study, which didn’t seem to me to be rooted in actual conditions in Dublin. I will look forward to seeing the master plan for the two dock areas.
Anyway, that was a more sensible set of questions from Maureen O’Sullivan, and it kept her off the subject of Effin Bridge.