by NEIL GREENLEES
Tánaiste Mary Coughlan visited Lisburn last Friday to help boost
plans for the East West Waterway which would allow boat owners
to sail from Lisburn to the Co. Donegal town of Ballyshannon.
Ms. Coughlan described the project, which
would link the city with the Erne-Shannon Canal and could
provide Northern Ireland with benefits worth an additional £4
million per year, as 'a particularly ambitious and strategic
She explained the Northern Ireland Assembly
and the Dublin Government were working together towards the
"promotion of the island of Ireland as a world class tourist
"Without doubt, we have a wonderful product
in terms of natural beauty which has lots of scope and potential
on which to increase visitor numbers. By creating an East West
waterway we can show off the island in all its splendour, giving
tourists a unique experience. I lend my full support to this
project and wish it every success," she added.
The Tánaiste was welcomed to Lisburn by Lagan
Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson who described her visit as 'of huge
importance' because it was about "making the project a reality".
"It gives us the opportunity to demonstrate
the benefits of the investment into the inland water ways, both
in Northern Ireland and in the Republic," he said. "The impact
of the completed and ongoing schemes along the Lagan canal are
only the tip of the iceberg as to what can be realised by the
East West Waterway Project which will eventually connect Belfast
and Lisburn with Ballyshannon and the Erne -Shannon waterway. "
Allan Ewart, Chairman of the Council's
Environmental Services Committee explained a Trust, currently
operating in shadow, would see the development of the Lagan
Canal through to completion.
Councillor Jenny Palmer, Vice Chairman of the
City Council's Economic Development Committee said she was
delighted Mr. Donaldson and Ms. Coughlan were supporting the
"This is a positive step forward, and is
vital to the project's success. The support of Central
Government, North and South, is important in terms of strategic
leadership, technical advice and finance, for the project to
succeed," he said.