Newry, Mourne and Down Council has been criticised over a three month failure to remove a sunken boat from a canal ahead of a cross border maritime event.
The vessel ‘The Badger’ had been moored along Newry’s Albert Basin for some years before taking on water and sinking in January close to a pedestrian area.
Damage to the waterway has been compounded by a pollution incident at Newry Canal following an oil spill along Canal Quay in mid March.
Council Alliance rep Andrew McMurray said these pollution incidents in the canal “are unacceptable”.
He added: “The sunken boat should have been removed from the Albert Basin by now. I would hope that the council will expedite the removal and ensure that any pollution of oil is cleared up effectively.
“How can we expect to promote waterway events in Newry such as the Carlingford Cruising Week, when boats are allowed to sink and effectively pollute the water as well as damage the look of the canal to visitors?
“Again the council has failed the environment and natural habitat of the canal, it needs to act fast.”
A flotilla of boats is due to sail up Newry canal on August 1, as part of the Carlingford Cruising Week and Moneyley Oyster Pearl Regatta.
The event entitled ‘A Night in the Albert Basin’ is described by the organisers “one of the most beautiful passages a sea going boat can make”.
A Council spokesperson said: “Newry, Mourne and Down District Council is currently engaging with the boat owner to finalise a date for removal of the boat and replaced the oil booms to contain any oil leakage.
“The council remains in contact with the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) in relation to mitigating against leaks of oil or fuel from the vessel, pending its removal from the canal.
“The annual fee for mooring a boat at the Albert Basin ranges from £31.75 per week to £527.05 per year.
“Specific details on rental agreements with individual boat owners are withheld from disclosure under commercial interests.
“The council is not currently concerned about any other ships/boats moored on the canal.”