Dáil Éireann - Volume 463 - 14 March, 1996

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Shannon-Erne Waterway Mooring Facilities.

13. Mr. B. Smith asked the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht when additional mooring facilities will be provided at Ballyconnell, County Cavan on the Erne-Shannon Waterway; if these facilities will be provided for the 1996 season in view of the heavy volume of cruiser traffic using this waterway and total inadequacy of the current facilities; and the traffic survey data available to his Department which indicates the need to improve facilities. [5612/96]

Mr. M. Higgins: A recent survey of boat traffic and of the use of mooring facilities on the Shannon-Erne Waterway indicates that the existing facilities will require to be augmented in a number of areas.

The survey indicates that Keshkerrigan is by far the most overcrowded location. Therefore, the Waterways Service is at present investigating the provision of extra moorings there in the first instance. Other locations, including Ballyconnell, will be investigated as and when funds become available.

Mr. B. Smith: Will the Minister deal with the provision of additional facilities in Ballyconnell as a matter of urgency? A survey carried out by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and Bord Fáilte Éireann indicates that the projections for the use of the Erne-Shannon Waterway have surpassed all aspirations. Problems will arise in the coming season as the existing facilities in Ballyconnell are inadequate. I appeal to the Minister to ask the Department to treat this matter with the utmost urgency. This waterway was restored to generate an economy devastated by the troubles in the [416] North and it is particularly appropriate to augment its economic position now.

Mr. M. Higgins: I agree that the provision of additional facilities would be money well spent. If I can find the necessary funds, there will not be any delay in the provision of the necessary facilities. We will immediately provide the moorings at Keshkerrigan. If I can identify a way of bringing forward the projects concerned, I will do so. It is important that we should respond to the increased interest in this area and I will investigate if a delay in proceeding with a project in another area would enable me find the money to provide some of the other facilities required.