Waterways Ireland

Oral Answers to Questions – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:45 am on 11th June 2007.

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Photo of Tommy Gallagher Tommy Gallagher Social Democratic and Labour Party 3:45 am, 11th June 2007

11. asked the Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure when he expected work on the new headquarters for Waterways Ireland to commence; and to indicate the number of staff expected to be employed there in the future.          (AQO 28/07)

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

Work commenced on the site of Waterways Ireland in April 2007. The building is designed to accommodate 81 members of staff.

Photo of Tommy Gallagher Tommy Gallagher Social Democratic and Labour Party

I am grateful to the Minister for taking Question Time so smoothly and moving it on so quickly to this point. Many of us thought that we would not reach question 11 today.

The investment that the Minister mentions, as well as the work that is under way, is a very significant development — particularly for the jobs and the economy of the border area. Furthermore, it represents a big step forward for all-Ireland co-operation. Does the Minister plan to build on the extension of the North/South waterways?

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

A paper was tabled at the Executive meeting of 7 June on the subject of restoration of the south-western section — namely, Upper Lough Erne to Clones — of the Ulster Canal, and possible funding sources. We are very well aware of the significance attached to this cross-border project, and we are currently considering the available options.

Photo of Lord Maurice Morrow Lord Maurice Morrow DUP

What is the Minister doing about the difference in pay of those employed in Waterways Ireland?

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

Differences in pay between some staff members in the North and their counterparts in the South have arisen for several reasons. The chief executives of the North/South bodies have raised concerns about the pay and conditions of service of their staff. These are complex issues, and the North/South Ministerial Council joint secretariat, in consultation with its sponsor and finance departments in both the Northern Ireland jurisdiction and in the Republic of Ireland, is considering them with a view to agreeing a possible response.