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Man whose houseboat was confiscated hopes to give 'generously donated' funds to charity

Anthony Hall built a floating home during lockdown, but it was confiscated by Waterways Ireland
Anthony Hall. Photo: Steve Humphries

Anthony Hall. Photo: Steve Humphries

Anthony Hall's DIY houseboat at Lowtown in Co Kildare

Anthony Hall's DIY houseboat at Lowtown in Co Kildare

Conor Feehan

A GoFundMe page set up to help a Kildare man whose houseboat was confiscated by Waterways Ireland has raised enough money for him to get it back.

Anthony Hall had built the floating house during lockdown and located it on a canal at Lowtown in Co Kildare, and after a visit from Waterways Ireland personnel on May 19 believed everything was in order.

But Waterways Ireland then confiscated the houseboat on June 2, saying it was in breach of the Canals Act, and told Mr Hall that he had until July 5 to pay then nearly €2,500 and then hire someone to remove the boat, or else they would put it up for tender or destroy it.

The total estimated cost is in the region of €4,500, and Mr Hall brought his situation to the public’s attention through the media to highlight how he felt he was unfairly treated.

A friend started a GoFundMe page for him which successfully raised the money to get the boat back, but now Mr Hall has another dilemma.

“Because the money was so generously donated by members of the public I asked Waterways Ireland if they might offer to waive the fee and I could donate the fund to a homeless charity, but they said no,” he told the Irish Independent.

“Now I have to give them nearly €2,500, and I have to find a company who can remove the boat and bring it back to me.

“I can use the rest of the funds to do that, but I’d rather it go to a homeless charity, so I’m wondering if I could come to some sort of an arrangement with a suitable company where they might agree to do the job of picking up the boat and allow me to donate the fee to charity.

Anthony Hall's DIY houseboat at Lowtown in Co Kildare

Anthony Hall's DIY houseboat at Lowtown in Co Kildare

“The public donated in good faith, and I am eternally grateful for their generosity, but seeing as the story is about housing I think it would be great if a homeless charity benefited in some way,” he added.

Mr Hall explained how he had built the boathouse to a highly professional standard over the lockdowns so he would have a place to live because he cannot afford rent.

He has been staying with friends since the houseboat was taken from him, but says his plans now would be to put it in dry-dock and hopefully do whatever needs to be done to adapt it in such a way that Waterways Ireland would be happy for it to go back on the canal.

“That will mean getting through some red tape and hurdles but I’ll have to take it one day at a time. I’ve invested so much energy into it now I don’t want to give up on the project,” he said.

“I won’t put it back in the water just now because I would always be looking over my shoulder to see if it would get confiscated again, and that wouldn’t be fair to all the people who donated the money to save the houseboat,” he added.

Waterways Ireland said it carries out regular visits to canals to ensure boats comply with its bye-laws.

“We work with owners to ensure they understand their responsibilities. Removing boats is a measure of last resort when non-compliance has been established,” it said.

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