Damage to Newry’s 300-year-old canal structure has become the subject of an investigation by authorities.
Opened in 1742 the waterway is one of the oldest man made canals in Europe originally used to transport coal.
Local resident, John McCabe raised his concerns to the Local Democracy Service after he detected a breach of the historic monument known locally as ‘Dodds Lock’.
He said: “This is a significant breach of a scheduled monument of Newry Canal.
“It is deeply concerning and it is very important that the public remains vigilant in observing and reporting suspected violation of our historic scheduled monuments such as Newry Canal.”
The Historic Environment Division (HED) of the Department for Communities records, protects, conserves and promotes Northern Ireland’s historic environment.
It has now launched its own examination of the site.
A DfC spokesperson said: “The department is aware of a reported breach of the scheduled area of the historic Newry Canal at this site and is investigating.
“Breaches of scheduled areas are considered under the Historic Monuments and Archaeological Objects (NI) Order 1995.
“Under the Order it is unlawful to disturb, damage or destroy a scheduled monument. We do not normally comment on the specific details of ongoing investigations.”
However, after HED archaeology experts visited the lock, it confirmed its findings in a letter (seen by the Local Democracy Service) to Mr McCabe.
It read: “The site visit and recently updated aerials do suggest a breach in the scheduled area.
“We have no record of being consulted by a planning application.”
At this time the cause of the damage is not known.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council (NMDDC) has begun its own investigation into a recent nearby construction.
A council spokesperson said: “Newry, Mourne and Down District Council has recently been made aware of this matter and can confirm that the Planning Enforcement team is investigating.
“The investigation is at an early stage, therefore the council is not in a position to comment further at this time.”