You’ve had a few very good years since we used to see you around here. The Taoiseach no less. Writing official letters to Kylie Minogue and going running with Trudeau!
When you were Minister for Transport and came to Shannon, you were some man to get a rise out of people, Leo.
Those that were there don’t forget a ridiculous suggestion that Knock was on the brink of overtaking Shannon and a rather wild claim that Aer Rianta International should be taken from the Clare airport because you said it had been established using profits from Dublin, that certainly shook ’em up, didn’t it?
In Clare, some of us also remember the gleaming vision for Shannon set out at the end of 2012. In the pits of recession, a newly-launched plan for the airport predicted 2.3 million passengers within five years and 2.5 million by 2021. Outstanding! And there were going to be well over 3,000 new jobs in aircraft-related industries too. Boom! We were on the way back.
Of course, since then, your beloved Dublin has shut out all the other Irish airports and the confident projections for Shannon lie in ruins today. Despite a dramatic economic recovery, the forecasts for passenger numbers at the Clare airport are nowhere close to being realised.
Dublin takes virtually all new air traffic into this country, with passenger numbers at Shannon not much better than 50% of what they were in the long-gone year of 2007.
Now that you are Taoiseach, is there any chance of some regionally-focused policy for areas like this that are in danger of being left behind? The airport is coming nowhere near the targets that you memorably said must be hit or Shannon would have “no future”.
Dublin Airport gets 96% of all new passengers coming into Ireland(that’s not a mistake, 96%!). Is there any hope you would develop some new policies so that some other parts of the country might benefit a little bit too?
Come on Leo, the original plan hasn’t worked out but now you’ve got the status and power to make amends.
Do the right thing. Kylie would want you to.
Clare Champion reporter
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