Contract signed for Ulster Canal redevelopment

By Matthew Leslie
A POTENTIAL boost to Fermanagh’s economy, which will see the county’s waterways linked up with the rest of Ireland, got a step closer after the contract to start work on Phase 2 of the Ulster Canal project was signed.
Chief executive of Waterways Ireland, John McDonagh, and managing director of Jons Civil Engineering Co. Ltd, John Pentony, signed the deal in Clones, Co. Monaghan this week.
Also present were Irish Government ministers Darragh O’Brien (Minster of Housing, Local Government & Heritage) and Cavan-Monaghan TD, Heather Humphreys (Minister for Rural Community Development).
Sinn Féin MLA for Fermanagh & South Tyrone, Áine Murphy, has welcomed the funding announcement stating it would help connect rural communities along the North/South border.
She said: “I’m delighted that the Irish government has committed a further €40m to the Ulster Canal.
“This funding will help restore the canal from Clones to Upper Lough Erne and help connect rural communities along the border. The project also includes new road bridges and a marina.
“The Ulster Canal project will be a game changer for the surrounding area, will help boost the local economy and create new tourism opportunities for small border towns and villages.
“I welcome the progress being made and will continue working to ensure the delivery of this crucial north/south project.”The project, which is due to go on site in August 2022, will involve the development of a new marina, two new access bridges, repairs to an existing masonry arch bridge, and a sustainable water supply.
It will expand on the work done on Phase 1 which linked up Lough Erne in Fermanagh to Clones. The second phase is expected to be completed in 2023.
The third and final phase will see both Fermanagh and Clones linked up with the wider inland waterway network of Ireland which would see the Erne linked up with the Shannon in Limerick. The Ulster Canal Redevelopment Phase 2 is a substantial investment of €20 million in funding under the Programme for Government.
It is supported by €8m in funding from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, €6m in funding from the Shared Island Fund, and €6m in funding from the Department of Rural and Community Development.
The project will be managed by Waterways Ireland and implemented by Doran Consulting. The work will be undertaken by Jons Civil Engineering Company Ltd.
Minister Darragh O’Brien said: “I am absolutely delighted to be in Clones for the signing of the contract for Phase 2 of the Ulster Canal redevelopment.
“This new amenity, between Clones and Clonfad – will further showcase our waterways heritage and its value to the island. The redeveloped canal is sure to be a welcome draw for locals and visitors alike, enhancing the local area and providing economic opportunity.”
Minister Heather Humphreys said: “As somebody who lives only a few miles out the road, I am absolutely delighted that the contracts have been signed today on the long-awaited restoration of the Ulster Canal in Clones.
“The Ulster Canal is a flagship cross-border project and I am delighted to support the development of this unique amenity with almost €6million in funding from my Department.
“The Ulster Canal will bring huge tourism and economic benefits not just to Clones and County Monaghan but to the entire Border region.
“I want to wish Waterways Ireland and the contractors the very best of luck with the project and I look forward to being back in Clones in the very near future to mark the commencement of construction work on this hugely exciting project.”
Chief Executive of Waterways Ireland, John McDonagh also welcomed the development.
He said: “The Ulster Canal is a major link in our waterway network. Phase 2 will see substantial restoration of the canal basin near the historic Canal Stores in Clones and will provide a water-based recreational amenity area there.
“The Ulster Canal Greenway is also in development and will, in time, complement the Canal Restoration project.”
Work on the Ulster Canal first began in 1841 and within the year it was open to commercial traffic.

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