Banner’s Oireachtas members criticised by mayor for ‘deafening silence’ over Shannon and Aer Lingus situation
CLARE Oireachtas members were criticised by the county mayor for what she said was their “defeaning silence” on Shannon and Aer Lingus
With Aer Lingus having announced the closure of its Shannon cabin crew base and declining to give any indication of when services from the airport will resume, there was lengthy discussion of the situation at Monday’s Clare County Council meeting.
Mayor of Clare Mary Howard called on the county’s Oireachtas members to fight for the airport. “The silence within the county was deafening from our Oireachtas members was deafening and we’ve never had as many Oireachtas members in the past,” she claimed.
“There’s nobody talking about Shannon, nobody talking about Aer Lingus. They’re (Aer Lingus) looking for a subvention and if they do get one there needs to be strings attached, that the Heathrow slots are safe, that they originate in Shannon and terminate in Shannon at night time, and also that the transatlantic flights to New York and Boston are safe.”
When the Shannon stopover was under threat and when the Heathrow slots were temporarily lost to Shannon there were major protests in Clare and Limerick, but Councillor Howard lamented the lack of a response now.
“There’s nothing of that magnitude this time and I think this is probably more profound and more dangerous for the whole Mid-West.”
Councillor PJ Ryan, who is set to succeed Councillor Howard later this week, agreed that Clare’s representatives in the Dáil and Seanad need to get the finger out.
“It certainly is up to our Oireachtas members to make the right noises in Dáil Éireann regarding Aer Lingus. There is already a considerable amount of money put into Aer Lingus so the Government should have some kind of a say.”
He said that Aer Lingus’ new CEO does not have any allegiance to Ireland, while he said it is very important that Clare make its case.
“We have to put up the battle, whether we’re going to lose or not is another day’s work.”
Fianna Fáil’s PJ Kelly called for a little more militancy from the Banner’s representatives in Dublin.
“I hope our seven Oireachtas members will pop over to Cusack Park and pick up Clare jerseys.”
He urged them to threaten to follow the example of Tony Killeen, who famously defied his party on the Shannon stopover, leaving himself outside of Fianna Fáil for a period of time.
“We’re not going to get a result by talking. I would urge the seven Clare people to get together. Whatever their politics they have a common denominator, they’re Clare, they owe it to us,” the Lissycasey man added.
Councillor Pat O’Gorman lamented the current state of the airport, with almost nothing moving in or out.
“I’m looking at the airport every single day and nothing is happening only hares running around and an odd bale of silage being made to keep the grass down. It’s a pure shame to see an international airport going the way its gone.”
Councillor Michael Begley struck a different note from some of the recent statements on the closure of the Aer Lingus base, saying that there needs to be some realism about it, and the focus needs to be on protecting connectivity.
“Our Oireachtas members shouldn’t be wasting time trying to reverse a business decision made by Aer Lingus and get up their noses on a matter that in the economy of scale for Shannon airport, is at the bottom of the list in my opinion.”
Keeping the links to Heathrow, New York and Boston is what’s most important, he said.
“That’s the basis that everything else revolves around in the operation of Shannon Aiport and I think people should know that.”
He invoked the famous Alcoholic’s Anonymous prayer, about having the courage to change what one can, the serenity to accept what one can’t and the wisdom to know the difference.
Independent Gerry Flynn claimed that Government decisions “have destroyed Shannon international airport and have allowed Dublin Airport to take all the airline business and in turn the west of Ireland’s economic welfare is at risk”.
The Shannon representative said, “For the most part our Oireachtas representatives have made no real impact on persuading the Government to allow even a percentage of airline traffic to Shannon.”
Fine Gael’s Joe Cooney queried if the leaders of the three Government parties have been in touch following an a request for a meeting.
“I want to go back to the special meeting we held about three weeks ago, there was a lot of debate and concern about Shannon Airport and the Mid-West region.
“I proposed the CEO, yourself (Cathaoirleach Mary Howard) and the Oireachtas members meet with the three leaders of the Government parties to outline our concerns as regards Shannon Airport. There were serious concerns raised at the meeting and I’d like an update.”
Councillor Howard said that the Taoiseach and Tanaiste had been written to, but there had been no response by Monday.
Councillor Cooney said the lack of response was a disgrace and urged that the request be made once more.
The meeting also passed a motion proposed by Councillor John Crowe, seeking the appointment of the Clare County Council CEO to the board of Shannon Group.
“We’re really not asking for much, the Council has done an awful lot for Shannon,” said Councillor Crowe.