Waterways Ireland is one of six North/South Implementation Bodies established under the British-Irish Agreement of 1998.​​   It is the cross-border navigational authority responsible for the management, maintenance, development and promotion of over 1000 km of inland navigable waterways, principally for recreational purposes. The waterways under its remit are the: –

  • Barrow Navigation
  • Lower Bann Navigation
  • Royal Canal
  • Erne System
  • Shannon-Erne Waterway
  • Grand Canal
  • Shannon Navigation

In July 2007, the remit of Waterways Ireland was extended by the North South Ministerial Council to include responsibility for the reconstruction of the Ulster Canal from Upper Lough Erne to Clones, and following restoration for its management, maintenance and development, principally for recreational purposes.  Office headquarters are located in Enniskillen, with regional offices in Carrick-on-Shannon, Dublin and Scarriff. ​

Waterways Ireland’s programme delivery is planned under a three year Corporate Plan and yearly Business Plans approved by the Department for Infrastructure in Northern Ireland and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht in Ireland.

Strategic Priorities in 2019

  1. Increase use of the inland navigations by 4% per annum.
  2. Deliver a prioritised management and maintenance programme for the waterways concentrating available resources on the areas of greatest need and benefit.
  3. Deliver a prioritised programme of infrastructural repairs focused on structures in a critical condition in places of greatest use.
  4. Continue to form partnerships and seek third party investment into development of the canal towpaths and key waterway locations to provide new recreational opportunities and uses for the inland waterways that support sustainable economic and social benefits.
  5. Continue to develop partnerships on each of the waterways with local communities, waterway user groups and tourism and recreational bodies to support the operation, upkeep, increased use and promotion of the inland waterways.
  6. Implement an ongoing efficiency and effectiveness programme to continue work to achieve new ways to do business with reduced resources.
  7. Continue to develop opportunities to earn increased income from the inland waterway property to support operation of the inland waterways.
  8. Sustain and enhance the natural and built heritage of the inland waterways to protect and enhance these key public assets for use now and by future generations.


For public lands and waters in Ireland 2017-2021

The Outdoor Recreation Plan (ORP) for public lands and waters sets out a strategy to revolutionise the provision of outdoor recreation facilities and services on public-owned land and waterways over the next five years.  This plan will enable delivery of world-class outdoor recreation infrastructure and services in Ireland, harnessing the latent potential of resources the State already owns, building upon an existing recreational resource, which is worth in excess of €1.5 billion per year to the national economy.

Read the full report here.