26 August 2016 No Comments by The Northern Standard


LOCAL  authorities and community groups on both sides of the Border are poised to make further progress in the next few weeks in relation to the development of an overall plan  to restore the old Ulster Canal.

  A new North-South  Forum,  with representatives from Monaghan, Cavan, Fermanagh, and  Omagh County Councils,  is  being activated  to explore how funding can best be raised for the  huge project.

The old  cross-border waterway, which linked the North to Monaghan town and Clones,  was completed between 1825 and 1841 and linked  Lough Erne with Lough Neagh but  ceased being used for  commercial transport in 1929.

  Last week, the  Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys T.D., and the North’s Minister for Infrastructure, Chris Hazzard, MLA., announced the establishment of the Ulster Canal Advisory Forum.

   It was revealed the purpose of the Forum was to consider options for advancing the Ulster Canal project and to examine possible funding mechanisms, including existing funding streams as well as the potential to leverage funding from other sources. The Forum will have regard to the review of the Ulster Canal being taken forward by the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish Government as set out in “A Fresh Start – The Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan.”

  The membership of the Forum will comprise of two elected members and one official from Monaghan County Council, Cavan County Council, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council as well as senior officials from the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, the Department for Infrastructure and Waterways Ireland.   Interested stakeholders from other organisations will be invited to attend meetings of the Forum as appropriate.

 Announcing the establishment of the Forum, Minister Humphreys said: “Having obtained Irish government approval for the commencement of Phase 1 of the Ulster Canal restoration project from Upper Lough Erne to Castle Saunderson, I am anxious to build on this momentum and to plan for the further development of this important resource which is so critical for the border region. This Forum, which will include key stakeholders along the Ulster Canal route, will be a positive dynamic in advancing the project.

 Minister Hazzard said: “I am keen that development of the Ulster Canal is undertaken in partnership with local councils and communities.  By working together we can help unlock the tourism potential of the entire region and maximise all available funding opportunities.  The commitment made in the Fresh Start agreement clearly signals our shared interest in moving this project forward”.

  This week,  Waterways Ireland and the North’s Department for Infrastructure  each indicated their  support for the early full restoration of the waterway as an important tourism project.

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