NEARLY six months after Rose Hynes’ time as Chairman of Shannon Group came to an end, she still has not been replaced.
When questioned this week about when the position will be filled, the Department of Transport issued a statement saying, “The position of Chairperson of Shannon Group was advertised by the Public Appointments Service and the Minister is currently considering a shortlist of candidates. The Minister hopes to be in a position to appoint a new Chairperson to Shannon Group shortly.”
Ms Hynes is so far the only person to have chaired Shannon Group, which came into being after Shannon Airport separated from the Dublin Airport Authority at the start of 2013. In addition to the airport it also has a sizable industrial property portfolio, particularly in the Shannon Free Zone, while it runs a number of major tourist attractions, including Bunratty Castle & Folk Park and King John’s Castle.
Speaking about the next appointment, Clare TD Joe Carey said, “It’s essential that we get a competent person and a person that is fully au fait with the Mid West region and the challenges that are there for Shannon, in terms of growing passenger numbers and destinations, as well as maximising the services that are there. That person will need to reach out to the business community and to the wider community to maximise the potential at Shannon.”
Whoever does succeed Ms Hynes will be coming into the role at a particularly difficult time. While the property side of Shannon Group has indeed been performing very well, it’s tourist attractions have been closed for most of the last year, while they face an at best uncertain 2021. In addition aviation is at a standstill, and restoring services at Shannon will be a difficult task, which management insist State support will be required for.
Addressing the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications Networks late last year, Shannon Group Chief Executive Mary Considine said that the airport is hugely important to this part of the country. ” While we will eventually recover from the economic impact of COVID-19, it will undoubtedly take a number of years for activity levels to return to anything like normal and we need collective action now to safeguard this vital industry.
“Shannon is more than an airport. It is a symbol of this region’s progress, evidence of this region’s innovation and when thriving, an example of this region’s success and prosperity. Most importantly it is the hub that connects this region’s people and industry with the world and this will be needed more than ever as we recover from this crisis.”