Newry’s two main canal groups have given their backing to the new £2.4m City Linkages Public Realm Scheme as it goes on site this week. The scheme will see the upgrade of canal bank walk ways from Sugar Island to Dublin Bridge with the final consultation evening taking place last week. With work having begun yesterday (October 1) motorists can expect disruption in the Sugar Island area as the 38 week project makes its way along the canal banks of Merchant’s Quay and Buttercrane Quay. Following the Town Hall event Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) branch chairman Peter Maxwell said he was satisfied the final plans address concerns the group had previously raised. “As a direct result of our lobbying mooring points for boats have been added to the plans as well as proper access and operating space on the water side of the railings. We are also delighted to see that there will be service ducts installed which can be used in the future to take electricity and water to the quay if boats were to be berthed there. Reopening the canal through to Lough Neagh is the ultimate goal for both the council and the IWAI and every scrap of work done on the canal should be geared to furthering that ambition.” Newry Maritime Association also gave its support to the project but said the public must engage more in such consultations if their views are to be taken on board. “I think overall in the scheme of things it is very welcome” group spokesman James McAreevey said. “The only thing is the continual railing which will bring separation from the water – but they are going to make provision for gates. The canoeing people who organized the recent polo event on the canal put inb a proposal that they would like good access especially with children using it. They hope to come twice a year. Two weeks ago they had 100 kids from places including Kilkenny and Belfast – plus a similar number of parents and friends. I was a little disappointed with the attendance at the consultation. This is a big project especially when you get so many raised issues previously about the loss of car parking. You also get post event criticism but when people have the chance to make a contribution they don’t take it.” Mr McArevey also confirmed that there would be two pieces of public art installed as part of the project, one at the Albert Basin and one along Merchant’s Quay. It is hoped that works will be completed by June 2014.
2nd October 2013