Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Grand ? - What's Grand About It ?

Erik Eblana, that famous Irishman, is standing as the Independent Candidate for the Pembroke-Rathmines constituency in the forthcoming Dublin City Council elections on June 5th 2009.

Like many politicians, he is full of promises concerning what he will do if elected to power.

Unusually, his promises revolve around waterways.

He has been quoted as saying "I want to clean-up and dredge the Grand Canal, making a safer habitat for wildlife and also encourage narrowboat living as seen in other European cities like London and Paris".

Erik has been shocked by the condition and neglect on the Grand Canal in Dublin and has campaigned for a clean-up.

He says:

"I’ve been campaigning for a major dredging of the water and have written to the various bodies involved.

However like most things, I have come up against a barrage of apathetic officialdom and discovered a responsibility deficit in terms of who actually should be doing this.

Because of this inadequacy, and the quietly increased distance between responsibility and action, in authority, I decided to run as a candidate in this election.

I believe it is the duty of the City Council to clean-up and maintain the Grand Canal and there has been a dereliction of duty by outgoing councillors, who have overseen the disgraceful decline of the canal".

He continues:

"I’ve been trying to set-up a heritage tours business along the Grand Canal and use a narrowboat or barge as the hub, the meeting point for my literary walks.

I also plan to live-aboard the boat.

This is common practice in cities like London, Paris, Amsterdam and even Birmingham. But in Dublin I’ve come against a silent stone of opposition from the various bodies involved.

I have discovered that Waterways Ireland and the Dublin Docklands Development Authority intend to enact new byelaws preventing people from living aboard their boats.

From what I can gather, through the roaring silence of these bodies on this matter is that they plan to surreptitiously restrict narrowboat living to Grand Canal Dock.

This is fine, in theory, however the mooring fees will be astronomical as people will have no choice –it will be a monopoly of sorts, and a ‘land grab on the water’.

I believe this is plain wrong.

As a city we should be encouraging retirees, artists, creative people, boat and craft workers and their families to live on the water.

They will become the custodians of the canal, protecting it and keeping it a viable habitat for wildlife and adding a colourful strand to the fabric of city life.
We are an island Celtic nation, and Dublin a city founded on a watery heart".

A government preventing people living on their boats ??

In the UK, British Waterways are accused of trying to reduce online moorings and "corral" boaters into marinas. Not surprisingly, most marina rules prevent people living on their boats and the moorings on offer are non-residential. Is this a stealthy way of preventing boaters living on their craft ?

I must admit, I have noticed a marked increase in the number of liveaboards congregating in clusters on the towpath and in quiet bye-washes. Rightly or wrongly, I'm convinced that this is a by-product of high house prices in the UK, which prevent many young people getting on the housing ladder. I believe they see canal boats as a cheap home, usually tinged with a degree of romance and freedom.

So, is Erik right to fight his corner or is he steering his island to a Grand Canal full of shanty boats ?

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