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Shannon taskforce to focus on estuary, not the airport

ON Tuesday Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said that a taskforce looking at the Shannon region’s economic potential and challenges will be set up.
However, it now seems that the taskforce will be related to Shannon Estuary rather than Shannon Airport and the adjacent industires, which had seemed to be the case when he was speaking on Morning Irleand.
While being interviewed, the Minister was asked about the setbacks at Shannon and the jobs at Lufthansa Technik, and he said, “I have been in contact with people in the area who are very concerned, and this has been an ongoing concern.
“We are going to have to do a whole range of different projects in Shannon particularly, it’s the wider industrial estate, it’s not just the airport, it’s the jobs that come with it.
“The Government are going to be setting up a Shannon taskforce, looking at the whole wider region, looking at the whole Shannon area. I believe that’ll be crucial in terms of attracting new industries in.”
However, when asked for details on Monday, a spokesperson for the Department of Transport said, “The Tánaiste will make an announcement on the Programme for Government commitment to establish a Shannon Estuary Taskforce over the coming weeks.”
In Tuesday’s interview, Minister Ryan denied that a taskforce would be ineffective.
“That is how you target and identify where the new economic opportunities are and you build on the strengths we have in the region.
“There is a skilled workforce. We will retain internatioanl connectivity, that’s critical and it’s on the back of that that you go out and identify where are the new opportunities that will allow the Shannon region to rise.”
However, speaking in the Seanad, Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan slammed what the Minister had said, and called for action to arrest Shannon’s slide.
Mr Gavan said, “Shannon Airport currently resembles a slow motion car crash.
“Each new month brings entirely predictable news of further job losses.
“We have already lost 81 cabin crew jobs from Aer Lingus. Now we hear a review is underway regarding the 500 jobs at Lufthansa Technik. A year into this government the response of the Minister is to announce another taskforce report.
“The recommendations of the Aviation Task Force Report have not yet been implemented, the 20 recommendations from the Oireachtas report are gathering dust,” the Sinn Fein senator pointed out.
“We have also seen reports on aviation from KPMG and the Limerick Chamber of Commerce on the future of Shannon. We have no insight from the review by the Minsters own department alleged to have been carried out last summer.
“But apparently this is not enough. Rather than take concrete action to save our international airport at Shannon, Minister Ryan wants yet another report.”
He warned that some tangible action and leadership is required. “Key decisions are pending from Aer Lingus with regard to the Heathrow slots, which will no longer be guaranteed to Shannon from September of next year.
“And crucially Minister Ryan continues to ignore the demand that a new state airport authority be established, reintegrating Shannon with Dublin and Cork, and ending the ludicrous situation where Shannon has to compete directly with Dublin Airport for business.
“At some point the Minister must find the courage to bring fundamental structural change to Shannon.”

by Owen Ryan

About Owen Ryan

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.