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Sinn Féin demand decision on future of Ulster Canal

24 July, 2006

Sinn Féin Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew has called on the both the British and Irish governments to finally make an announcement on the development of the Ulster Canal.

Ms Gildernew said:

"I have now written to the relevant ministers north and south, Maria Eagle and Eamonn O'Cuiv respectively, asking for meetings with each of them to discuss this issue, and urging them to meet and get on with making the announcement about the future development of the Ulster Canal.

"The benefits of opening up this major connection across the island should not be underestimated. Both Waterways Ireland and the Blackwater Regional Partnership have recently produced reports on the social and economic benefits of developing the Ulster Canal. It is now time for the two departments to get their act together.

"The Ulster Canal is the 'missing link' in Ireland's inland navigable waterway system, and its development would provide a connection from the Shannon to the Erne, to Lough Neagh and the River Bann.

"There is massive potential in this initiative for the tourism industry on the island - restoring this waterway would complete an All-Ireland canal network, from Dublin across to the West and north to the Antrim coast.

Ms Gildernew was speaking after a Sinn Fein delegation met the management team of Waterways Ireland in Enniskillen. The Sinn Fein team included Fermanagh MLA Thomas O'Reilly, Monaghan County Councillor Pat Treanor, and Sean Oliver, the party's All-Ireland affairs coordinator.

Speaking after the meeting Ms Gildernew added:

"We had a productive and wide-ranging discussion with the Waterways Ireland team. We discussed their role in promoting and marketing the inland waterways, with their massive tourist potential, and also received an update on progress on Waterways' planned new headquarters in Enniskillen, as well as the imminent opening of a regional office in Scarriff, County Clare." ENDS

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