On Wednesday Feb 22nd the Inishowen Rivers Trust invited communities and agencies to gather and share their hopes and vision for the future of Inishowen’s precious rivers, loughs and coastal waters.
“It was clear from the outset that this was going to be an uplifting event”, said Trish Murphy, one of the Trust’s directors and organisers of the event. “There was a buzz amongst organisations as they set up their stalls with banners, leaflets and interesting objects to demonstrate to the audience the work they carry out on Inishowen waters.” The event began with water songs performed by local musicians setting a relaxed tone for the evening and reminding us of our shared passion to care for our local rivers. This was followed by excellent presentations from Bernie O’Flaherty and Jimmy McVeigh from the Waters & Communities Office, and Mark Horton the All Ireland Director of The Rivers Trust. Each of the speakers reiterated the importance of community engagement with water and showed how Trusts can connect communities across a large catchment area, have multiple benefits in terms of water quality, biodiversity, health and well-being and generate an economic benefit for those communities.
After the presentations agency representatives and several community groups were invited to give a short introduction to their organisation and everyone had the chance to provide comments, feedback or questions to a harvest board. This provided ample opportunity to mingle and meet others and it was certainly a busy evening. The final part of the night focused on looking at the themes raised on the harvest board and a Q&A session from the floor provided a further chance to raise more issues.
The Inishowen Rivers Trust was formed in late 2015 after a number of public meetings to gauge interest and explain the concept of a rivers trust. There are currently seven trusts in the Republic of Ireland and a number of further groups exploring the idea. All trusts operate as charities and provide training, education and opportunities for communities to reconnect with nature and enhance our environment. Director Larry Coyle added, “It was a great night and a brilliant opportunity to meet the people working on the ground. Everyone was there – landowners, fishermen, farmers, walkers, artists, environmentalists, bird watchers and all those who want to learn more about our local waters.” There are a wide range of statutory agencies involved in the monitoring, promotion and enhancement of our natural waters and this Who’s Who event aimed to help communities understand what these roles are and what agencies operate in Inishowen. Twenty seven statutory agencies, NGOs and affiliations attended the event and provided a synopsis of their role. This information has been put together as a 20 page directory. Larry continued, “We hope this directory booklet will be a useful resource for communities in the future who wish to get involved in water projects. They can find out who to contact for support or advice.” A copy of the directory can be picked up from your local library.
The Inishowen Rivers Trust would like to thank everyone who contributed to the event, to the speakers, singers, greeters, agencies, printers, hotel staff and all the community groups that turned out with an open mind and a willingness to learn and share our thoughts and ideas.
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