Civil rights

IRBOA: Oppose Waterways Ireland proposed draft Bye-Laws 2024, Dont Empty our Canals!

Petition is directed to
Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O'Brien Minister for Public Expenditure, National Development Plan Delivery and Reform Paschal Donohoe Minister of State at the Department of Housing, Local Government and HeritageMalcolm Noonan
882 supporters
35% achieved 2,500 for collection target
882 supporters
35% achieved 2,500 for collection target
  1. Launched September 2023
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The Draft Revisions to the Shannon Navigation Bye-laws and Grand & Royal Canal and Barrow Navigation Bye-laws by Waterways Ireland, run the risk of removing boats from the navigation and restricting access to a public amenity for all users.

Waterways Ireland closed Phase 1 of the Public Consultation on the 27th of October 2023 and on the 15th of January this year opened Phase 2 for Public Consultation. With over 500 for the Shannon and over 700 submissions for the Canals officially received by Waterways Ireland in Phase 1. The level of anger and frustration over the proposed introduction of these Bye-laws was clear. 

See the Phase 1 Report and Phase 2 Bye-Laws here:

While some limited amendments have been considered, IRBOA believes the Phase 2 Bye-laws still contain the same threat to the future of Ireland’s beautiful inland waterways as a public amenity.

  • The introduction of Authorised Officers capable of issuing on the spot fines of €150 for non-compliance with the Bye-laws. These fines may be issued to not only those on a boat, but walkers, cyclists, fishermen, kayakers and horse riders (they are also proposing to restrict horses from the towpaths). These Officers will also have the power to ask for your name, address and ID. Those issued fines will have no right of appeal other than the District Courts. 
  • The introduction of a €200 annual registration fee for all boats on the Shannon Navigation and introduction of a 60-day visitor's pass to the Shannon Navigation at a cost of €40. We believe this is a stealth tax imposed by Waterways Ireland and will significantly reduce the activity on Ireland’s busiest waterway. 
  • Leisure boats will no longer be allowed within the greater Dublin Area(M50 to Sallins on the Grand and M50 to Kilcock on the Royal Canal roughly) for more than 10 calendar days per month. We believe this will create dead areas on our canals with little or no leisure boat traffic.
  • No boats at all allowed to moor or enter the canals between the 12th locks and Grand Canal Dock in Dublin without permission, fundamentally ending any navigation on these Canals.
  • They also risk the vibrant communities of traditional canal dwellers, breaking up communities and isolating vulnerable houseboats owners to rural areas, with no support network or access to services.
  • They are asking for the public to pay massive permit fee increases up to 1198%, depending on the area where the boat is located and yet they have not been forthcoming in their own Annual Reports and Accounts. This is unacceptable. Please see current published reports here:

  • No description of basic facilities, exact mooring locations, numbers and the terms and conditions of these new permits. Waterways Ireland needs to address the current lack of basic facilities and provide more clarity on locations before enacting these proposed Bye-Laws. 

Please help IRBOA oppose these Bye-Laws by signing the petition. These revised Draft Bye-Laws still do not put user requirements, local communities, or tourism at the centre of the regulations. Waterways Ireland is a publicly funded organisation with no board of directors and therefore no independent oversight. They have failed to publish any audited accounts for over 2 years now. We believe they should not be given such sweeping legislative power until their own house is put in better working order.


There has been a lack in representation for Houseboat communities in Ireland. IRBOA’s main object is to represent these communities and campaign for their interests.

We aim to promote and inform Politicians, the public and other interested groups about the wonderful Houseboat communities.

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Look after boat owners and give us a break

No CONTRA argument yet.

Why people sign

I do not want the proposed amendments to both the Shannon byelaws and Canals & Barrow byelaws for the following reasons.

Proposed permit fees far too high.

Navigations too restricted. Open the Dublin line. There is no congestion.

Infrastructure too poor. Need more pump outs and water taps.

Proposed Waterways ranger patrol powers requested unnecessary.

These amendments will result in the displacement and break up of canal liveaboard communities. Causing homelessness.

No intermediary set up to appeal the proposed on spot fine system.

No to any new byelaws until the public body Waterways Ireland have an overseeing board.

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