WHOEVER was left in charge of the Dublin Airport Twitter account last week may have done Shannon an entirely unintended favour.
Many thousands of people in Clare and indeed Limerick feel strongly about the success of the airport upon which the region’s economy depends and when Dublin Airport posted a ridiculous, self-regarding tweet about being the key gateway for the 2026 Ryder Cup in Adare, it really jarred.
It has helped bring attention to the plight of our struggling airport and the fallout will show local politicians that they must take action to arrest its decline.
The term fake news is derided because Donald Trump coined it and has aimed it at some of the most reputable media organisations in the world. Yet the depressing reality is that fake news is often widely believed nowadays, with ease of access to publication through social media and weak deterrents meaning that people are merrily spreading lies all around the world, every single day.
On board the train of misinformation hopped the Dublin Airport social media team last week, telling their Twitter followers that it is “the key gateway for overseas visitors” who will be going to the Ryder Cup in Adare.
One of the issues with trying to spread fake news is that when people spot clearly identifiable bulls**t, they can be quick to hit back and it’s as easy for them to do so as it is to spread the fake news in the first place.
Dozens of people piled on to point out how much closer Shannon is to Adare and the Rubberbandits brilliantly exposed the nonsense. “Ye f*****g snakes. Shannon is practically beside the place,” they tweeted to over 200,000 followers.
Dublin followed up its first tweet by claiming it will welcome more overseas visitors than Shannon for the event and bragging that it is “a much larger airport with greater connectivity to Britain, the US and continental Europe”, leading to more anger in the Mid-West. It is very hard to see how the person writing these tweets thought they were helping Dublin Airport, while alienating thousands of potential customers.
Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council Cathal Crowe labelled the tweet predatory, a very accurate description, and one that could also be applied to Dublin’s approach to Shannon for many years.
Before Shannon Airport was made independent, it spent an interim spell under the control of Dublin Airport and it was simply disastrous for the Clare airport.
With Shannon and Cork under its remit, the DAA sold former Aer Rianta assets, such as the Great Southern Hotels for €265 million and shares attached to Birmingham for some €300 million, yet it was hard to see any benefit beyond the capital.
When Shannon did separate from the DAA, the ultra-lucrative Aer Rianta International, founded and run from the Clare airport, was, quite incredibly, handed to Dublin. Predatory indeed.
It is also worth bearing in mind that one Leo Varadkar was Minister for Transport at the time.
Since becoming independent at the start of 2013, Shannon has made some improvements in traffic numbers but the level of growth has been way behind what had been hoped for. There has also been a very strong Dublin Airport marketing campaign in the Mid-West, looking to undermine any improvements at Shannon.
Happily, the events of last week have exposed how hard Dublin will work to eat Shannon’s lunch and deprive it of passengers. This should motivate Clare people to support their own airport whenever they get the chance and, where possible, to avoid using the one in the capital.
When the tweets came out, the performance of Shannon was again a topic that politicians were talking about on the radio and posting about on social media. They want to be on the right side of this and it’s important that the Clare public, which already endures awful broadband and some of the worst health services in Western Europe, keeps the pressure on those who are paid to get results for the county.