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Laois TD and Councillor call for ‘action to be taken on Grand Canal’

Grand Canal
Dept Brian Stanley, Philip Crean, Sean Murray & Cllr Aidan Mullins at The Annanough Weir which is a supply channel to the Canal.

Sinn Fein TD Brian Stanley and Cllr Aidan Mullins are calling on Waterways Ireland to carry out works essential works on the River Barrow.

Water levels have dropped significantly in the Grand Canal throughout this year.

The Barrow line, which is the stretch from Monasterevin to Athy and going through Vicarstown, was particularly badly affected according to the public representatives.

Brian Stanley said: “The problem has continued for most of this year.

“Water levels dropped over 2ft and this has caused problems for boats and barges using the Canal, with propellers and other parts getting damaged. At times water levels were just too low to keep vessels afloat.

“This has had a very damaging effect on tourism and has also affected local barge owners due to boats constantly getting caught on the floor of the canal.

“The Grand Canal is essential to Laois as an amenity and a tourist attraction. This Canal is over 200 years old and is very important from a heritage point of view.

“At present, significant funding is being spent putting on “Blueway paths adjacent to the canal. However, the maintenance of the canal itself is not been given the required attention.

“We have raised this in a Dáil Question with Minister Darragh O’Brien and we have also contacted the CEO of Waterways Ireland John McDonagh.

“While we are informed that they have now fixed a significant leak in the Canal and done some weed cutting, other works are badly needed.

“Waterways Ireland has been pumping water into the canal as a temporary measure, but more long term sustainable works are required.”

Local users of the canal in Vicarstown showed the public representatives where remedial works are needed.

Deputy Stanley said: “In particular, the Annanough Weir must be repaired as a lot of the masonry and stonework has disintegrated, along with remedial works along the supply channels to ensure that there will be sufficient water supplies.

“Also, Waterways Ireland needs to remove the weeds along the Barrow line to allow boats to navigate safely.

“We will continue to pursue this with Waterways Ireland and Cllr Mullins is raising this matter with Laois County Council to get support for the necessary works to be concluded as soon as possible.”

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.