WHEN Pádraig Ó Céidigh was appointed chairman of Shannon Group last September it was seen as very positive for the airport, but he resigned in frustration last week, after less than six months in situ.
The chairman is involved in setting the strategic direction of the airport and the wider Shannon Group and as such is very important to the regional economy.
Following his resignation Mr Ó Céidigh declined to be interviewed by the Clare Champion, but sources say that he was very frustrated.
The source said he felt it was proving very difficult to pursue the objectives that he wanted, and that he found it difficult to forge positive relationships with certain other people within the Group.
Given his experience in aviation and the level of success he enjoyed, the Ó Céidigh appointment last year was seen as a smart one, and the Galway man was clearly enthusiastic about taking on the role at the outset.
Following the decision to resign, Fianna Fáil senator Timmy Dooley said that questions must be asked about Mr Ó Céidigh’s departure.
“I was hugely impressed by the enthusiasm and vigour he showed when he was appointed. I’m at a loss as to what has happened in the intervening period.”
He said that Shannon was the real loser.
“It’s a very significant loss to the airport, he was one of the few on the board with aviation experience, one of a very small number associated with Shannon who had an entrepreneurial spirit and the loss of that is significant at a time of great change in aviation.”
Clare TD Cathal Crowe also said the reasons for the Ó Céidigh departure must be teased out.
“I’ve written to the chairperson of the Oireachtas Transport Committee, Deputy Kieran O’Donnell, to suggest that we urgently summon Mr Ó Céidigh, Mary Considine and Fintan Towey, Assistant Secretary for Aviation in the Department of Transport, to appear before our committee to discuss the reasons behind this resignation.”
Since Shannon Group was established in 2013 it has had three CEOs, with Mary Considine succeeding Matthew Thomas who followed Neil Pakey.
Rose Hynes was the first chair of the board before being succeeded by Mr Ó Céidigh who is now being followed by Conal Henry.
It’s a lot of personnel changes and Clare TD Joe Carey called for the reasons for the turnover to be looked at closely.
“I believe it’s timely that a full review of the Shannon Group structures is undertaken now given the loss of two chief executives and two Chairpersons in such a short time.
“This review should take no longer than three months and be undertaken by a professional organisation that is at arm’s length from the Group.
“Such a report should be presented to the Minister and Department and the recommendations acted upon in a speedy manner.
“We need to understand why the Shannon Group has lost such good people and learn from these setbacks in the interest of the airport and the regions it serves.”
Local business group Shannon Chamber released a statement voicing its disappointment at the Ó Céidigh departure.
“Mr Ó Céidigh’s decision to step down just as the airport is beginning to win back connectivity traction post pandemic and as discussions re: Shannon Heritage are ongoing is hugely concerning.
“Shannon Chamber board will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Minister for Transport to assess the role of the Chair of Shannon Group Plc, the rationale for such a decision, and to express the need for certainty and continuity at chairperson level in Shannon Group plc, whose constituent businesses are critical infrastructural assets in the Mid-West region.”
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.