Minister Heather Humphreys, T.D., Minister for Regional Development, Rural Affairs, Arts & the Gaeltacht formally launched the REDZ Blueway Flagship initiative on Friday, June 24th in the Landmark Hotel, Carrick on Shannon. This project was an innovative partnership of Cavan, Leitrim, Longford and Roscommon local authorities in conjunction with Waterways Ireland and supported by Bord Na Mona and the ESB
The Upper Shannon Erne Future Economy project (USEFE) is a unique business and agency-led initiative to drive economic development across the counties of Cavan, Leitrim, Longford and Roscommon. USEFE covers a range of different sectors including tourism, food, creative, renewable energy and pharma. USEFE was successful in seeking REDZ Flagship project funding on an initiative to signpost and extend the development of the Blueway across the region.
The Blueway is an initiative of Waterways Ireland designed to develop a multi-activity trail running alongside water which links walking, cycling, canoeing & paddle boarding with local towns and villages. The USEFE project partners worked in conjunction with Waterways Ireland to ensure the objectives of the REDZ Blueway proposal were achieved on time and to a high standard.
Twenty two towns and villages in the Upper Shannon Erne region are inter-connected by the River Shannon and Shannon-Erne Waterway which provided a unique opportunity to develop the Blueway concept. The Blueway project was one of two flagship projects funded under the REDZ Programme. It cost just under €280,000 and was used to develop the capacity of communities and businesses along the waterways from Belturbet and Ballyconnell in Co. Cavan through Drumshanbo and Carrick-On-Shannon in Co. Leitrim onto Boyle in Co. Roscommon and Lanesborough in Co. Longford.
Leitrim County Council Chief Executive, Frank Curran, stated that "The Upper Shannon Erne Future Economy Project partners are fully committed to working with Waterways Ireland and the trade to develop the Blueway across counties Cavan, Leitrim, Longford and Roscommon". He added that ‘The level of partnership that exists between the agencies across the region is quite unique, which will be a big advantage in making sure the Blueway initiative maximises its full potential"
Waterways Ireland Chief Executive Dawn Livingstone said "The USEFE partners have been excellent to work with in the development and delivery of the second phase of the Shannon Blueway and the Shannon-Erne Blueway. The REDZ Programme has enabled the expansion of the Blueways initiative, not only the trail development but the business & enterprise support and marketing activity in a really effective and efficient manner. Waterways Ireland looks forward to working with the USEFE partners on other strategic projects in the future to expand and develop the economy and business growth in the Upper Lakelands."
The Upper Shannon Erne Future Economy initiative is a perfect example of how a coordinated approach between businesses, community groups and agencies can work effectively as it results in a more joined up approach to rural development. All stakeholders were fully dedicated to the REDZ Blueway project and remain committed to working together in the future for the betterment of the region.