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Councillor P J Ryan, Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council.

Clare cathaoirleach calls for free parking at Shannon Airport

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FREE parking at Shannon Airport has been proposed by the Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, as part of a bid to revive tourism and increase traffic through the Midwest airport.
Councillor PJ Ryan received huge support for this call, at the July meeting of the local authority, for an incentive to use Shannon Airport over the likes of Dublin and other facilities. “It is crucial that central government support Shannon,” he said. “There are measure that we can look at on the ground and free parking could be one of those,”
The motion was welcomed by Councillor Ann Norton. “Anything that can get people into Shannon Airport is something we should look at,” the Independent member said. “There was great excitement in our house with Ryanair’s Turin service. That will mean people can go skiing in the winter and any opportunity to get Shannon off the ground again is welcome. It’s great to have an international airport on our doorstep and we must do all we can to make people aware of it.”
According to Councillor Michael Begley, free parking on its own is only part of the solution. “In itself, it mightn’t make a huge impact,” he said, “but it could be a very important part of a suite of incentives.”
Supporting the sentiment of the motion, Councillor Gerry Flynn agreed that free parking might help. “It won’t put much of a whole in the problem,” he remarked, “but I support the sentiment.”
Councillor Donna McGettigan gave her full support to the motion. “As new flights open, this could be a real incentive to use them,” she said.
Councillor Joe Killeen underlined the importance of promoting tourism destinations in the county. “We need to bring tourists through Shannon and link in with the attractions across Clare,” he said.
Councillor Pat McMahon suggested that packages could be created to encourage people to use Shannon Airport. “We need a counter-balance to Dublin,” he said. “If the mayor could lead a deputation to negotiate with the likes of American Airlines, there might be a lot of possibilities.”
With the council considering taking over Shannon Heritage, Councillor John Crowe identified an opportunity for cross-promotion. “It might be possible to organise packages which take in the whole county,” he said. “With free parking, these packages could work very well and keep people in Clare for longer.”
Councillor Pat Daly described the challenges of parking at Dublin Airport and said that free parking at Shannon might be the incentive people needed. “People are getting tired of driving for miles at Dublin Airport into overcrowded carparks,” he said. “Then, it’s hard to find your car when you return. With free parking in Shannon, we could attract people from a wide hinterland. This will need a decent marketing job.”
Councillor Ryan thanked colleagues for their support. “We will await a response from airport management,” he said. “We must, in the meantime, secure funds to promote Shannon Airport and central government must realise that.”

About Fiona McGarry

Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald. Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti. She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at NUI Galway. If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at fmcgarry@clarechampion.ie or telephone 065 6864146.

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