Canal 'to reopen' after 80 years
Part of the cross-border Ulster Canal which has not been used for 80 years is to reopen, it has been revealed.
The 14km route runs from Lough Erne in Co Fermanagh to Clones in Co Monaghan.
New towpaths and bridges will also be created as part of the 35 million euro work which is expected to take three years.
Northern Ireland environment minister Alex Attwood announced planning permission. "It will reopen a historic waterway that has not been used for over 80 years and offers huge opportunities for regeneration and leisure-related activities for the entire region," he said.
The Ulster Canal is a disused waterway running through parts of counties Armagh, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Cavan and Monaghan. It originally linked the Lough Erne river system to Lough Neagh but has not been used since 1929.
The approved planning application was to restore 5.5km of river navigation from Quivvy Lough in Fermanagh to Gortnacarrow and another 8.5km to Clones. This will involve reconstruction of the existing canal route and creating tow paths for public access on both banks.
Campaigner Brian Cassells from the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland said work on further sections of the canal could create a link to the four corners of Ireland.
"This is the beginning of the final stretch that will open up an all-Ireland system allowing navigation from Coleraine in the North to Limerick in the West, Dublin in the East and Waterford in the South," he said.
He added that the development had great tourism potential. "There are a lot of visitor attractions that could be easily developed, it creates another tourist destination," he said.
"This is a project for everybody. The tow path means the whole community can get out and enjoy the fresh air and all our beautiful countryside has to offer. We have only got to look at the success of the Lagan and Newry tow paths where hundreds walk those stretches every day."