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Review makes waves on still canal waters as shake-up of by-laws and fees looms

Waterways Ireland flexes muscles but tries to not lose sight of those on board, writes Caroline O’Doherty

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John McDonagh, CEO of Waterways Ireland, at the Garavogue River in Sligo. Photo: James Connolly

John McDonagh, CEO of Waterways Ireland, at the Garavogue River in Sligo. Photo: James Connolly

John McDonagh, CEO of Waterways Ireland, at the Garavogue River in Sligo. Photo: James Connolly

Paddy Harkin used to patrol the stormy seas as a Naval Service commander but his policing skills are just as valuable on the seemingly serene waterways of the country’s canals.

As Waterways Ireland’s inspector of navigation, he not only has to keep the freshwater highway moving freely, he must chart a course through human sensitivities too.

That unlicenced barge is someone’s forever home, that battered riverboat is someone’s temporary escape, that lovingly restored narrowboat is someone’s pride and joy, that half-sunk shell of a cruiser is someone’s DIY dream.


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