CANI News Splash July 2020 Ed.1

Edwin Poots ‘Shocked’ at Levels of Rubbish in NI Rivers

See full BBC NI report published on 29th June 2020 here 

The environment minister has said he is “shocked at the level of pollution, debris and waste,” in NI rivers.

Almost 20,000 plastic and glass bottles, 800 football, rugby and tennis balls and 120 bags of rubbish are an example of some of the things fished out of the River Bann in nine months.

Edwin Poots took to the river in a kayak to see the extent of the problem.

Mr Poots said the volume of debris in the waterway was “truly appalling”.

He went with a volunteer who has been trying to clear the river  and improve the water and habitat quality for wildlife and nature.

“It’s obvious that it has a profound and damaging impact on the fish and wildlife using our rivers and on the ecosystem including organisms, plants, grasses and trees near the river banks,” said Mr Poots.

He said that while many enjoy the benefits of nature and respect the outdoors, “others are selfish and lazy and simply dispose of things without thinking or caring about the effects“.

A plastic straw takes approximately 200 years to decompose, a plastic bottle 450 years and some plastics never decompose,” he said.

It is our responsibility to help our environment to thrive,” he added.

Jon Medlow, who spent from September 2019 to April 2020 sweeping the river for litter, often fills a dinghy full of rubbish.

Mr Medlow has covered a 12-mile stretch of the River Bann from Portadown Golf Club to Bannfoot at the mouth of Lough Neagh.

I have been able to purchase two kayaks and equipment to enable others to get onto the river and help with the clean-up, free of charge,” he said.

He said volunteering with the clean up was a rewarding experience for those who had helped out.

Items removed from the River Bann between September 2019 and April 2020:

  • 11,672 plastic bottles, 7,793 glass bottles
  • 1,381 cans, 466 footballs
  • 311 tennis balls, 156 soft plastic balls
  • 124 plastic buckets, 118 bags of rubbish
  • 57 items of footwear, 45 plastic drums (three containing used oil, one leaking fuel)
  • 26 plastic plant pots, 25 plastic containers (one with oil and water, one with petrol, one with oil)
  • 22 plastic ducks, 17 paint tins
  • 15 traffic cones, 13 oranges
  • 11 shopping trolleys, 11 x 1/2 fishing rods
  • 10 lifebuoy rings, 10 fire extinguishers
  • 9 chairs, nine hurling balls
  • 8 basketballs, seven bananas
  • 7 bicycles

Meet CANI Equality Committee Older Person Lead
– John Cunningham


John and his dog on a recent paddle

I’m John Cunningham the Representative for Older People on CANI Equality Committee, I am well qualified at least in one respect being 76 , I have been a Level  II Coach in both Kayaking and Canadians for the last 25 years  with Belfast Kayak Club and a resident coach at the Robinson Center since 2001. At present I am running a group for the U3A (University of the Third Age) that had been paddling weekly for the past four years. 

From a personal level I had taken the general advice that at over 70 it was time to hang up my paddle and I did , but after six months I was missing the exercise , the paddling and friendships , but at that time I had joined the U3A in Carrickfergus and in line with their ethos I was wondering what I could share with them . When I suggested canoeing to the committee they laughed at the idea but gave me  permission  to try. It snow balled and quickly became one of most popular activities . The group of twenty one paddled right through last winter right up to ” lock down “. 

I started off the paddling the group in ” rafted canadians “, but very quickly found out that they wanted to and were capable of paddling tandem. The rafted canadians give a very stable platform ideal for nervous first timers and an other advantage of open boats as well as their stability is that they do not require special wet gear but normal walking gear will suffice.

New Resource for Older People 

Belfast City Council, supported by the PHA and a range of other partners, have developed and launched a booklet on ”Keeping Well at Home” particularly aimed at older people.  

To download a copy please click on the CANI Equality webpage here.

CANI Equality Committee Recruitment


CANI are looking for volunteer Equality Committee members for the following positions to help us move to the next stage in our development;

  • Female Lead
  • Ethnic Minority Lead
  • LGBT+
  • Cross Community Lead
  • Young Person Lead
  • Chairperson
  • Secretary

The two other roles of Disability Lead and Older Person Lead have already been appointed.

We need individuals who share in our values and vision for paddlesport and who have the skills, qualities, and expertise to help the CANI Equality Committee operate effectively. 

Please note that individuals do not need to be a member of CANI or have experience paddling to apply.

These roles are voluntary and the roles offer great flexibility to fit around your time as the majority of our work will take place at bi-monthly evening meetings with occasional weekday activities such as conference calls.

Details of the roles and how to apply can be found here and please submit expression of interest from to Lauren Smythe, Chief Officer, at by 12 noon on Friday 7th August 2020.

  • The updated CANI Equality Committee Terms of reference and details of members can be accessed here.
  • The CANI Strategy 2017-21 can be accessed here .
  • Information on equality can be accessed on the CANI website here .

CANI Child Safeguarding Update

Two new safeguarding documents have been developed and added to the CANI website as follows;

  • Reporting Guide for Concerns Inside CANI
  • Reporting Guide for Concerns Outside CANI.
Both documents can be accessed on the CANI website here.

Health & Safety Update- Boat Identification Scheme

The public are encouraged to call 999 and ask for the Coastguard if they suspect someone is in trouble. This regularly triggers a full scale air and sea rescue involving the deployment of significant resources from multiple agencies. 

However, false alarms are a huge issue for the Coastguard and RNLI who have asked paddlers to help them resolve the problem. The solution is simple: have your name and contact number visible in your boat.


The benefits are:

Massive savings in resources to the emergency services. One quick call would bring the situation to a close. 

If you do genuinely lose your craft, and it has your contact details – you will get it back!


Simply write your name and contact number in your boat with a permanent marker pen. 

Use one of the laminated boat identification stickers produced by The RNLI to support this campaign. These will be distributed to British Canoeing and National Association members when you renew your membership. Please note that due to the current working arrangements we are not currently distributing the stickers in membership packs. The stickers will be sent in packs when normal service resumes.

Alternatively,  further stickers can be ordered, free of charge, through the Marine Coastguard Agency web site MCA website directly here.


These can be stuck in the cockpit or inside one of the hatches of the kayak and are there to provide basic information to help identify the craft, paddler and promote safety.  

CANI Membership Cards

Please note that since the onset of Covid-19 CANI membership cards are being created in pdf and emailed rather than a plastic version being issued.  If you have any queries please contact the CANI Office at

NI Sports Forum Clubs Financial Survey

Please encourage your Paddle Club to complete the NI Sports Forum Clubs Financial survey by clicking here .

The survey closes at 5pm on Wednesday 8th July 2020.

Funding Opportunities

The Tudor Trust- Over £10k

Grants of a minimum of £10,000 are available to smaller community-led groups that support people at the margins of society in the UK, encouraging independence, inclusion and integration.   Sports organisations need to have a strong social focus. 

There is no closing date and the Tudor Trust are still open to new applications during Covid-19.  

To find out more and apply click here.

Belfast City Council Summer Programme- Up to £1k

Belfast City Council’s summer funding programme will support groups involved in various activities helping community recovery. Activities must take place by 30 September. Funding will be granted to groups focusing on:

  • Children and young people
  • Civic Pride
  • Preventing isolation
  • Emotional wellbeing
  • Preventing anti-social behaviour

Funding of up to £1,000 is available to groups.  To receive an application form contact or call 02890 320202.

Closing date 1st September 2020 and for further details click here.