Newry.ie

Ambitions to have the Albert Basin in Newry as a vibrant mooring area for ships that wish to use Newry Canal seem to have taken a set-back with ship master of local yacht Jorodeta claiming that Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Tourist Information Centre have informed them in the past few days, that access to berthing alongside the Quays Shopping Centre at Albert Basin is to be “restricted to the ten craft currently there!”

The ShipFinder App for IOS doesn't seem to think there is a waterway between Carlingford Lough and Newry but great progress has been made in the use of the Newry Ship Canal in recent years. It would be a shame to see a backward step.
The ShipFinder App for IOS already thinks that Newry is off the map and doesn't seem to know there is a waterway between Carlingford Lough and Newry but great progress has actually been made in the use of the Newry Ship Canal in recent years. It would be a shame to see a backward step.

With the high profile restoration of the Victoria Lock sea gates just completed it was hoped that this could herald a new beginning for recreational users of the canal but it’s being claimed that the “new and emerging council policy suggests that as far as tourism for 2016 forwards for water based activities, Newry is off the map.”

The Loughs Agency Marine Tourism status report and action plan 2014-2016 states that "Londonderry and Newry hold superb potential as a ‘City Break by Sail’ destination – the Agency will continue its efforts to promote these cities as opportunities for city breaks as part of a sailing holiday.”

The Agency's report included Action plans that would “Encourage the provision of scenic/dining boat trips on the Newry Ship Canal between the Victoria Lock and the Quays Commercial Centre”  and "Work with tour operators to enhance the area’s popularity as a place to stay at least one night, including offers of boat trips and other specialist visits (eg. the medieval village of Carlingford, shopping in Newry, the Mountains of Mourne, South Armagh)"

It's claimed that with ten ships moored at the Albert Basin presently that there is no space for others to arrive! Photograph: Columba O'Hare
It's claimed that with ten ships moored at the Albert Basin presently there is no space for others to arrive! Photograph: Columba O'Hare

Over two dozen boats spent the winter moored at the Albert Basin in 2014 but with work commencing on Victoria Lock rendering Newry Ship Canal unnavigable, many chose to depart, leaving just ten moored there.

Jonathan Cully commented “The restored facility lay largely underutilised up to 9 years ago when activists and local voluntary groups insisted council represent better the budgetary investment of public funds, and make the facility accessible. Following a period that has seen maritime events, water sports and mooring facilities thrive, it is regretful now that access to this extraordinary and historically significant public monument, is to be denied to the rate-paying, voting public.”

Jonathan continued “11 boats want to come up, 3 have been refused, others that are in are scared to leave as it is indicated the berth can not be reserved and two boats outside have been waiting since last year having paid in full in advance. new policy as yet unconfirmed by council and not available in minutes as of yet, suggests that no more than ten connections to electricity are to be made, however as of last night the ten boats on the quays, only 5 are connected. there is in excess of 180' of berthing available and 5 electric hook ups unused...but no boats allowed in.”

We asked the council for a reaction but to date haven’t received one.

The newly renovated Victoria Locks are due to be officially opened in the coming days but as a post on the Inland Waterways Newry and Portadown Facebook page says “ Why spend all that money on the lock when no more boats will be able to use it?”

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