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Action urged on new Group chair

McNamara ribs Tanaiste over previous role in Shannon appointments

SHANNON Group badly needs to see a new chairperson appointed, Clare TD Michael McNamara told the Dáil last week.
He also taunted the Tanaiste regarding the role he played in having Rose Hynes reappointed as its chair in the past.
“It has been an extraordinarily difficult year for Shannon Airport. Throughout much, if not all, of the past year, it has not had a chair for its board of directors.
“Strategic decisions need to be made at Shannon regarding its aviation business but also in respect of Shannon Heritage and its future. The chair of a board of directors is there to provide strategic guidance,” he said.
“When the Tánaiste was Taoiseach, Shane Ross was his Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, and I am told he wrote a book about the experience.
“He rang the then chair of Shannon Airport to tell her he was not going to continue her tenure. No sooner was he off the phone to her when he got a phone call from the then Taoiseach, as a result of which he changed his mind.
“Will the Tánaiste give the current Minister for Transport a ring to see what is happening with the appointment of a chair in Shannon? I have been trying to phone him but he does not answer my calls,” Deputy McNamara added.
Responding, Mr Varadkar defended his role in extending Ms Hynes term as chair of Shannon Group, while he said he would raise the issue of her replacement with Minister Eamon Ryan.
“I am not sure if the former Minister, Shane Ross, has the timeline exactly right but he does have the substance right.
“I did ask him to extend the term of the then chair at that time, at least until he found a new one. I do not think that was bad advice because leaving a chair empty is never a good thing for a board and that is the point Deputy McNamara is making.
“The Minister for Transport, Deputy Eamon Ryan, does take my calls. I will certainly raise the matter with him this evening when I see him.”
During the same debate Sinn Féin’s Clare TD Violet Anne Wynne asked the Tanaiste “to take the three and a half hour journey down to County Clare and engage with the workers and hear how they are being directly impacted by the recent announcement.”
Responding, Mr Varadkar said, “I am happy to engage on the issue of Shannon, alongside my colleagues. I have already been talking to Aer Lingus.
“As the Deputy knows, to secure the future of the airport we will need to allow people to return to international travel again.
“The Deputy also will be aware that for some time, her party thought the travel restrictions we brought in were not strict enough. I am glad that she has changed her position on that, if indeed she has.”

About Owen Ryan

Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.
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