A NUMBER of county councillors have called for an apology to be made to their colleague, Pat McMahon, following a letter written by Shannon Airport director Mary Considine, which appeared in The Clare Champion. The councillors were speaking at this week’s Clare County Council meeting.
However, in a statement, the airport stood by Ms Considine’s letter, which they claim corrected an earlier statement by the Newmarket representative.
“Our letter merely sought to set the record straight regarding the inaccurate statement by Councillor McMahon at a previous meeting that it takes almost twice as long to use the preclearance facility in Shannon Airport compared to the same facilities in a number of US airports. We are happy this was clarified in our letter published in The Clare Champion,” an airport statement on Wednesday read.
The letter, which appeared in The Clare Champion on April 8, was written by Shannon Airport director Mary Coughlan and referred to comments made by Councillor McMahon at a previous meeting of the council.
At the meeting, he had said rules for general aviation need to be equally applied on both sides of the Atlantic to ensure Shannon isn’t disadvantaged. He also claimed the passengers could be waiting twice as long in Shannon as they would be in the US.
In her letter, Ms Considine stated, “The comments attributed to Councillor Pat McMahon at a recent meeting of Clare County Council are inaccurate and damaging to the image of the preclearance operation at Shannon Airport.”
She claimed passengers arriving at JFK from Shannon can arrive at kerbside within seven minutes of landing. “The inaccurate comments did a disservice to a niche selling point of our airport, particularly as we attempt to develop and grow other opportunities, such as the preclearance of private/general aviation aircraft in difficult times.”
However, at Monday’s meeting, Councillor McMahon refuted the criticism. Reacting to a recent announcement of a procedural change allowing a faster turnaround for business jets, he said he was delighted it was in place.
He said the letter to The Clare Champion had denied there was an issue with private jets but that this was proved incorrect by subsequent events.
“Members must have been surprised to see the changes being made that I suggested in March,” he commented.
Councillor PJ Ryan said Councillor McMahon had been right to put in the original motion and that he deserved an apology. “Management denied there was a problem and a few weeks later, they say that now private jets can clear in a short space of time. That speaks for itself.”
A number of other councillors backed the call for an apology and complimented the Fianna Fáil councillor for his commitment to Shannon.