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Dublin: 20 °C Friday 7 August, 2020
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Heritage Minister confirms Waterways Ireland will not remove barge homes from canal

Six boat owners had been served eviction notices and told their homes would be removed by crane if they did not move them.

Image: Gary Long via Instagram

THE MINISTER OF State for Heritage has said Waterways Ireland will not remove any genuine houseboats from the Grand Canal after he intervened to prevent evictions this week. 

The waterways management body has also committed to engagement to find a longterm solution for ‘live-on’ barges on the canal.

Six boat owners had been served evictions notices, and told that their homes were to be removed by crane this week and stored for a month before being sold off if they did not move them.

According to current by-laws, Waterways Ireland does not allow boats to moor on any canals for more than five consecutive days. Residents have been campaigning for an update to these by-laws to cater for the current housing crisis. 

Yesterday Junior Minister and Green Party TD Malcolm Noonan contacted barge owners and informed them that these evictions would not happen. He met with Waterways Ireland’s Acting CEO John McDonagh yesterday to discuss a solution. 

In a statement, the minister said they discussed the issue of houseboats on the Grand Canal and confirmed that Waterways Ireland will not be removing an “genuine or legitimate houseboats or so-called ‘live-ons’”.

“Assisted by my department, Waterways Ireland will engage now in a collaborative process with all stakeholders around finding a long term, sustainable solution to regularise the use of the canals, recognising the cultural and heritage value of our canal network as living communities of people and ecology,” Noonan said.

“The process with community and sustainability at its heart will seed our future strategy.”

Barge owner Gary Long said residents are “thrilled” to hear they will not be facing eviction.

“The new minister, Malcolm Noonan, seems to have made more progress in one day with Waterways Ireland than any other politician has in five years. We released his statement to the Livaboards Association and it is the first time Livaboard boat owners actually feel they are being heard,” Long said.

They have such a strong community and are so relieved. I am really hopeful for the future now.

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He said the minister will be meeting with residents next week to discuss extended mooring permits. 

Narrowboat owner Beau Donelly also welcomed the announcement that residents will be allowed to remain. 

“In the middle of a housing crisis and a global pandemic, it has been a massive source of stress for us all, so we are thrilled with the new minister’s decisive action. But a plan to protect liveaboards long term is urgently required, not just in Dublin, but across the country.”

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