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Sinn Féin urge progress on re-opening Ulster Canal

12 October, 2005


Sinn Féin Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has urged Irish
Minster Éamon O Cuív and NIO Minster David Hanson to press ahead with the
development of the Ulster Canal after the two met in Dublin with
representatives of Foras na Gaeilge, the Ulster-Scots Agency and Waterways
Ireland today to discuss progress on the work of the three all-Ireland
implementation bodies. Ms Gildernew said:

"The truth is that it is the lack of political will that is holding up the
reopening of the Ulster Canal. It is not enough for Waterways Ireland to
pull together all of the information that is currently available to
produce a summary report. What is required is for one body to take forward
this initiative in consultation with local communities, councils and
business organisations.

"The all-Ireland implementation body Waterways Ireland is the perfect
organisation to administer the renaissance of the Ulster Canal.

"The rejuvenation of small towns along the Shannon can be mirrored here if
we have the political will to get behind the ever growing number of
organisations and committees who see the value of reopening the Ulster
Canal.

"A large scale all-Ireland project such as this would be a real boost to
the people of Fermanagh, Tyrone, Armagh and Monaghan. Anything that
economically strengthens communities along the border has to be welcomed.
If this project goes ahead there will be real economic and community
benefits.

"We have seen that call from Monaghan County Council and the vote on
Fermanagh Council supporting the demand to have the remit of Waterways
Ireland adjusted to include the Ulster Canal and the setting up of the
Ulster Canal Trust last November in Monaghan with the emphasis on making
progress on re-opening the canal.

"Here in Fermanagh the Clones-Erne East Partnership has met with the
Blackwater Association to build a co-ordinated response on behalf of local
communities.

"The number of people coming to Ireland to sail on its rivers and canals
is increasing and has done wonders in regenerating communities that live
on their banks.

"People can travel from the estuary of the River Shannon in Limerick right
the way up to Lough Erne and Enniskillen where water tourism plays a
significant part in the local economy. If the Ulster Canal were reopened
Lough Neagh and River Bann would be opened to the large network of rivers
and canals they are cut off from. This would be a massive boost to towns
and villages which straddle the Bann and would offer great economic
opportunities to places as far away as New Ferry and Portglenone, giving
them a direct link to Enniskillen, Limerick, Galway and the Royal Canal."
ENDS


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