IF a commercial deal was handled as badly as the transfer of the Shannon Heritage sites to the County Council, those in charge would probably be looking for new employment, said Clare TD Michael McNamara this week.
It should be far easier to establish if Clare County Council can get the finance it says it needs, he feels.
“If money isn’t available, money isn’t available. I’ve never been one to make little of money or to say that €15 million, which is reputedly what’s being asked, is a small amount of money, it’s not.
“On the one hand you have Government representatives saying that it’s a small amount of money, which I don’t agree with, and on the other hand they’re saying that every effort is being made.
“It seems to me that the dispute isn’t even about money, there seems to have been a lack of interaction between the Government and its various departments, Shannon Airport which is a semi state, and Clare County Council, which is arguably an emanation of the State.”
Given that the agencies involved are so close to the Irish State, it should have been possible to conclude the matter in a reasonable amount of time, he feels.
“Someone should have brought them together and hammered out a deal if a deal can be done. No effort has been made to do that, that I can see. It has just drifted along.”
He said that it appears the Council and Shannon Airport Group are negotiating through the media.
“It’s not a criticism of the media, the media normally report what’s provided to them and there’s been a lot of spinning going on for a while. It’s regrettable but understandable, a vacuum has been created by Government inaction.”
He said that it may be possible for the Council to accept a lesser fee for taking on the facilities. “Could a deal have been done for less than €15 million? I suspect so, but nobody even bothered to try.”
It is understood that Shannon Airport Group is hoping to retain a sizable land bank at the end of the deal, while Mr McNamara said that if it had been planning to carry out capital works, then it is apparent that funding is required.
In general he feels the matter has been botched.
“I mean, if a business deal was being done in this way there’d be a lot of very senior managers unemployed by Christmas. But the only people facing uncertainty now are the workers of Shannon Heritage who are very much the victims in all of this.”
Owen Ryan has been a journalist with the Clare Champion since 2007, having previously worked for a number of other regional titles in Limerick, Galway and Cork.