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Police confirm investigation into damage at 300-year-old Newry canal structure

Alleged damage caused to the scheduled monument of Newry Canal at Dodd’s Lock

Newry Ship Canal. Photo credit: Newry.LN

A PSNI investigation has been launched into alleged unlawful damage caused to Newry Canal.

The 300 year old canal structure, listed as a scheduled monument, opened in 1742 and is one of the oldest man made canals in Europe.

Under the Historic Monuments and Archaeological Objects (NI) Order 1995, it is unlawful to disturb, damage or destroy a scheduled monument.

The Historic Environment Division (HED) of the Department for Communities (DfC) records, protects, conserves and promotes Northern Ireland’s historic environment.

A DfC spokesperson told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) this week: “Following an investigation, Department for Communities has reported the incident to PSNI.”

Concerns about damage to ‘Dodd’s Lock’ on Newry Canal had been reported to authorities in mid 2023.

The LDRS understands that a possible planning issue is being considered by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council (NMDDC).

A council spokesperson said: “The matter is still under investigation by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council’s Planning Enforcement team, therefore the council is not in a position to comment further at this time.”

Earlier this month, a Co. Antrim building contractor who admitted destroying a historical monument was fined £50,000.

In the first prosecution of its kind in Northern Ireland, the contractor entered a guilty plea that he wilfully destroyed or damaged a protected monument, namely lime kilns at Moneybroom “knowing that it was a protected monument and intending to damage or destroy the monument or being reckless whether it would be damaged or destroyed”.

Meanwhile, Newry resident, John McCabe who detected the possible breach at the canal, has praised the efforts of the HED.

He said: “I welcome this investigation, which is now finally underway at Newry Canal. Our heritage needs protected and you just can’t put a price on that.”

A PSNI spokesperson confirming the Newry Canal investigation, said: “Police received a report on Friday, 24th November 2023 concerning an alleged breach of a scheduled site on Newry Canal. Enquiries are ongoing at this time in relation to this investigation.”

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