Tag Archives: sheugh

Matters of minor importance

Some recent(ish) discussions amongst the People’s Representatives. I haven’t time to analyse them all. All links courtesy of the estimable KildareStreeet.com.

Brendan Smith [FF, Cavan-Monaghan] wants a sheugh in Clones; he got the usual answer. And he allowed Jimmy Deenihan [FG, Kerry North/West Limerick] to announce, on 19 December 2013, the death of the suggested extension of the Erne navigation to Lough Oughter [loud cheers]:

Brendan Smith: To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht if he has received the feasibility study on the proposed extension of the Erne navigation from Belturbet to Killeshandra and Killykeen; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Jimmy Deenihan: I am informed by Waterways Ireland that it commissioned a Strategic Environment Assessment for the possible extension of the Erne Navigation from Belturbet to Killeshandra and Killykeen.

On reviewing the environmental information from this process, Waterways Ireland considers that the environmental designations of this lake complex make the feasibility of the proposed navigation extension highly unviable. For that reason, I am advised that Waterways Ireland does not propose to pursue this project any further at this time.

Well, that’s one minor victory for sanity. Here’s how a dredger got to Lough Oughter in 1857.

Maureen O’Sullivan is anxious to recreate the economy of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by using canals for carrying cargoes. Especially on the Shannon–Erne Waterway, where commercial carrying was so successful before. [What is it about the Irish left?] Thank goodness that the sainted Leo Varadkar gave not an inch: someone should make that man Taoiseach, President and Minister for Finance. And Supreme Ruler of The Universe and Space.

The web-footed inhabitants of the midlands, who have discovered that they live in a flat area with rivers, keep wittering on about Shannon flooding, failing to realise that it is a message from The Lord, telling them to either (a) move to higher ground, eg Dublin, or build arks. On 15 January 2014 Brian Hayes told Denis Naughten, inter alia, that info from the recent OPW/CFRAM monitoring of water levels on Lough Ree (which I think was when the levels were lowered) would be placed on the OPW website “in the coming days”; I haven’t been able to find it yet so I’ve emailed the OPW to ask about it. And on 21 January one James Bannon said that he intends to introduce a bill setting up a Shannon authority, which will have magical powers. Well, if it doesn’t have magical powers it won’t be able to stop the Shannon flooding, but perhaps it’s designed to allow the unemployed landowners of Ireland another forum in which to demand taxpayers’ money to prop up their uneconomic activities.

Finally, a senator called John Whelan wants a longer consultation period on the proposed amendments to the canals bye-laws. I suppose I’d better read them  myself.

Sinn Féin promotes a certain Sheugh

The Dáil discussed the Good Friday Agreement on Tuesday 14 and Wednesday 15 May 2013. On the Tuesday the minister, Jimmy Deenihan (FG, Kerry North/West Limerick), gave the standard line on the Clones Sheugh:

One of the projects it is currently progressing is the restoration and reopening of the Ulster Canal between Clones and Upper Lough Erne. Planning permission has been granted by Cavan County Council, Monaghan County Council, Clones Town Council and, more recently, the Northern Ireland Department of the Environment planning service. I have established an interagency group to explore funding options for advancing the Ulster Canal project, including existing funding streams and leveraging funding from other sources. The group comprises county managers from Monaghan and Cavan county councils, the director of leisure development and arts from Fermanagh District Council, representatives from the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Fáilte Ireland, the Strategic Investment Board, Waterways Ireland and senior officials from the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The next meeting of the interagency group will take place later this week. This interagency approach has been effective elsewhere and I suggest it could be used for similar projects in future.

Nobody else mentioned the Sheugh that day, but on the following day local man Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin (SF, Cavan-Monaghan) gave a rose-tinted account of the benefits of canal restoration:

The second outstanding issue I wish to raise is the Ulster Canal. Far-seeing individuals, not least in the local communities, saw the potential long ago of re-opening the Ulster Canal from Lough Erne in County Fermanagh, through Clones in County Monaghan and on to Lough Neagh. This was a flagship project identified in the Good Friday Agreement and confirmed in subsequent negotiations and agreements. Those far-seeing people saw the potential economic return for entire communities throughout this beautiful part of rural Ireland with the opening up of the Erne-Shannon waterway, linking Lough Erne with the River Shannon. They rightly concluded that similar benefits could be gained from re-opening the Ulster Canal, with the 13 km Erne to Clones section marked out as the first phase of the overall project.

In July 2007, nearly six years ago, the North-South Ministerial Council agreed to proceed with the Ulster Canal project. That was widely welcomed at the time, especially in the Border counties, where the peace dividend had been very slow to materialise. It was widely seen as vindication of the campaign of the local communities and the calls from elected representatives of all parties North and South, including my Sinn Féin colleagues and me, for this very positive project to be advanced. In the intervening period we have seen the economic collapse in this State and a parallel contraction in the North. Despite that, the Ulster Canal project was kept live. Nonetheless, it took until October 2011 for Waterways Ireland to lodge planning applications. Permission was granted last month for the northern section by Minister for the Environment, Alex Attwood, and earlier this month by Clones Town Council and Monaghan County Council for the section in this jurisdiction. The Minister, Deputy 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 Government to do all in its power to expedite this process. I also urge the Minister, Deputy Deenihan, and other colleagues to maximise the possible EU funding for the project from the PEACE IV programme. The Ulster Canal project is hugely important, not only symbolically, but will prove to be powerful in terms of economic development across this island. It is time to get the work on the ground under way.

Nobody else mentioned it.



Funding the Sheugh

The Sunday newspaper read by the better class of person tells us today [paywalled]:

Coalition frees up cash for construction

The government has signalled that it intends to spend more money next year on building projects in a bid to use spare cash, including savings from the promissory note deal, to stimulate the economy and promote job creation.

The Department of Public Expenditure has written to other government departments asking them to submit lists of capital projects in addition to what has already been planned.

The projects selected are likely to include housing, retro-fitting of housing stock, schools, local roads, primary care centres and other health facilities and it is hoped to boost job creation, especially in the decimated construction sector. It is likely that preference will be given to “shovel-ready” projects that can be progressed to the tender stage almost immediately.

I suppose it’s a change from piers and seed potatoes and other famine relief works. I wonder what the Department of Arts Heritage and the Gaeltacht will be digging out of its bottom drawer.

53 Percy Place, Dublin

53 Percy Place, Dublin

And I wonder whether 53 Percy Place, which was to be sold, and was expected to raise €1 600 000 for the Clones Sheugh, will still be in WI’s hands in a year or two.



Sinn Féin’s sheughs

I have remarked before that Sinn Féin seems to be devoted to the leading-edge communications technology of the eighteenth century, the canal. I have no idea why it takes such an interest in the subject, but further evidence of its devotion has emerged in the last week.

The Fermanagh Herald reported, on 5 May 2013, that Michelle Gildernew MP [whose Sinn Féin page seems to have disappeared] listed the Clones Sheugh amongst the jobs on which European taxpayers should spend money. She did so at a meeting with Colette Fitzgerald, head of the European Commission’s Belfast office; Ms Fitzgerald made polite noises but did not promise any money.

But Sinn Féin does not confine itself to Clones. Carál Ní Chuilín MLA, whose Sinn Féin web page is live but well out of date, is (as Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure) the NI minister responsible for Waterways Ireland. We learn from the Londonderry Sentinel that she wanted Waterways Ireland to be landed with responsibility for the Strabane Sheugh.

Happily, the North South Ministerial Council shot that down, but the minister wants to see whether the unfortunate Strategic Investment Board can find any loot for the canal. It might be better if they were asked to find a use for it first: even if it were restored, it would be unlikely ever to see more than a few small boats in a year. It might provide a walking route, for which (pace the Clones dudes) neither locks nor water would be needed, but the Londonderry Sentinel leaves me unclear whether the towpath is usable. It says:

A year ago the Sentinel reported the ‘tow path’ section of the Strabane Canal was to open for the first time in 50 years in June 2012.

It doesn’t say that the towpath did reopen, which seems odd; a Belfast Telegraph article of June 2012 says that it was reopened temporarily but WalkNI says that it is being restored. So is it open or not? I’d like to know, because I favour walking routes along unrestored canals, as does the learned IndustrialHeritageIreland, which also notes encouraging interest from Monaghan County Council.

Save the newts: abandon the Clones sheugh!

Why has the proposed sheugh not yet been approved in Northern ireland? Because the Northern Ireland Environment Agency has been asking hard questions. WI has very kindly put the answers on its website.

The newts are going to be evicted, the stables may have to go but the Orange Hall won’t be affected. Hours of interesting reading.


Sinn Féin and the Clones Sheugh

Northern Ireland Assembly debate 6 November 2012, via TheyWorkForYou.com:

Phil Flanagan (Sinn Féin): […] Will the Minister provide an update on the restoration of the Ulster canal from Clones to Upper Lough Erne?

Martin McGuinness (Sinn Féin): As I said, there was a presentation on the issue at the North/South interparliamentary forum, and the planning processes are up and running. I understand that, on the Cavan side of the border, it has been successfully concluded. There is still some work to do on this side. Everyone realises, from a tourism point of view, that this is filled with all sorts of potential for us, particularly in the context not only of whatever construction jobs will be created by the project but of the prospects for utilising our waterways in a way that can bring employment to local communities.

For “everyone” read “everyone except irishwaterwayshistory.com and a few other sane people”.

All sheugh up

Thinking about the exciting news from the North South Ministerial Council plenary session about the Clones Sheugh, I was reminded of the even more exciting news of the first meeting of the North/South Inter-parliamentary Association.

Strangely, its meeting received little publicity in the great world. I asked Messrs Google to search for it but to omit links from the Oireachtas and the Northern Ireland Assembly, as well as those from politicus.org and flickr.com. It found only 42 hits, of which the first seven were links to the site of a Labour senator called Mary Moran. (I won’t provide a link to her site as she’s obviously perfectly capable of generating all the links she wants.)

Anyway, the first meeting of the North/South Inter-parliamentary Association seems to have passed almost unnoticed. You can read about it on InsideIreland.ie, which seems to be a news site run by an advertising agency.

From Ciarán Hanna’s account, I deduce that the North/South Inter-parliamentary Association is an entirely pointless body. I note that it won’t meet again until April 2013. And perhaps the Irish government’s support for the Clones Sheugh is because it gives this pointless body something to discuss, thus keeping it from commenting on anything important.