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Tag Archives: Michael McNamara

Shannon airport

Shannon Group CEO appears before Covid-19 committee

Among the people appearing before the Special Committee on Covid-19 Response today is Shannon Group CEO Mary Considine. Representatives of Ryanair, Aer Lingus and the DAA are also appearing before the committee in Leinster House. Passenger numbers at Shannon have fallen very significantly since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, while some Shannon Heritage sites have remained closed and others, including Bunratty Castle, are due to close for the season at the end of August. Shannon Group is also responsible for the operation of Shannon Heritage.  Speaking before the meeting, Committee chairman, Michael McNamara TD said: “The catastrophic impact the pandemic response has had on the aviation industry was outlined to Committee members, last week by unions. TDs were warned of a “tsunami” of redundancies and the potential liquidation of Aer Lingus. “We will continue our investigation into this sector, when we hear from officials from the management of Dublin, Cork and Shannon Airports and officials from airlines; Aer Lingus …

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McNamara hears of lockdown plight of children with special needs

THE plight of parents who have been on lockdown caring for their children with special needs, and who would normally access the support of services like those provided by The Clare Cruaders, has been highlighted at the Special Committee on Covid-19. Chairperson of the committee, Scariff TD, Michael McNamara heard from a number of those advocating for children and families, including representatives from Inclusion Ireland, who outlined in detail the strains put on households and the regression experienced while services were closed. While the Department of Education and Skills has initiated an expanded summer programme, known as July provision, there are concerns about the children who will be excluded on the basis of their disabilities. Enda Egan, CEO of Inclusion Ireland told the committee, “The scheme continues to exclude cohorts of children with disabilities and has been characterised by poor planning, leaving schools and families frustrated and in the dark.” He also urged that the scheme be opened to “all children with …

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“They have to put on their Clare jersey”

WITH a range of challenges mounting for Clare, there was disappointment this week, as not only was the county denied a seat at the Cabinet table, there won’t even be a representative from the wider Mid-West Region. Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council Mary Howard said that while ability should be the first criteria, the lack of West of Ireland representation in the new Cabinet is striking. “The other night, when you looked at the map and there wasn’t a senior minister from Donegal down to Limerick, it wasn’t a nice thing to see. I’m hoping that the west of Ireland will have the majority of the junior ministries now. “It was glaring when you saw there was two ministers in Wicklow, three in Cork, six in Dublin and nothing at all from Donegal down to Limerick.” At the moment the Mid-West’s health services are a shambles, Shannon Airport seems to lurch from crisis to crisis, while there are fears that …

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Covid Committee Chair Highlights Childcare Sector Struggle

THE plight of childcare providers coping with insurance issues and increased regulation, as they get set to re-open, was highlighted this week by Deputy Michael McNamara, Chair of the Special Committee on Covid-19 Response. The Scariff-based TD handed over the role of chair for part of last Tuesday’s hearings so that he could pose questions to sector representatives. He noted that in Clare, many childcare providers with whom he spoke during his General Election campaign flagged “huge difficulties” because of the burden of costs and administration. Deputy McNamara asserted that this was “primarily because of the Department and its policies”. On the issue of increased red-tape for the sector, the Independent TD said providers in Clare had spoken of spending long hours on paperwork. He was responding to testimony from Paula Donohoe of the Association of Childhood Professionals, who had been forced to work full-time on administration. “My favourite part of the day was the three hours I spent in the …

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“A massive blow to Shannon”

THERE are concerns being raised about the future of Shannon Airport, as it lost a key transatlantic route at the weekend, which local tourism businesses say will affect them badly. United Airlines operated a Shannon-Newark service from April to late October and while it had been suspended for this year, it was expected it would resume in 2021. However, that will not be happening. It is another body blow for Shannon, which had been hopeful of a positive 2020, up until Covid-19 struck. Although in the state of New Jersey, Newark is just a few miles outside of New York City and the United route was an important factor in bringing thousands of American visitors to this part of Ireland. On Saturday, Shannon Group chief executive Mary Considine sent an email, which has been seen by The Clare Champion, to the newly-formed Oireachtas cross-party group on Shannon, in which she appealed for Government support. “We were aware that they [United] …

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Crowe and colleagues raise Clare Bus issue in Dáil Éireann

THE issue of Clare Bus has been raised in Dáil Éireann, with three of the constituency’s TDs appealing directly to Minister Shane Ross to intervene in the dispute with the National Transport Authority (NTA), which resulted in new contractors being appointed to the rural transport service in March. Deputy Cathal Crowe outlined the importance of the service saying, “We are not a leafy suburb with DARTs and Luas trams going down through it. We rely very much on rural transport.” The Fianna Fáil TD described the dispute over funding as “shambolic” and, referring to the staff of Clare bus said, “They are the only group of workers I can think of in the State at present who have been made redundant, not by the Covid crisis but by Government body hard-balling.” In her maiden speech in Dáil Éireann, Sinn Féin TD, Violet-Anne Wynne asked, “Will the Minister also step up and engage an independent mediator to resolve contractual issues between …

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McNamara to chair new Covid-19 Dáil committee

CLARE Independent TD, Michael McNamara has said he doesn’t expect the new Covid-19 Dáil committee, of which be became chairperson this week, to be a star chamber or to make a political football of public health guidelines. Responding to questions from The Clare Champion this week, Deputy McNamara said he expected the high-profile committee to treat witnesses, who will include Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Tony Holohan, with respect and to focus on matters of public interest and information. The committee, which is the only one sitting currently, is made up of four members each from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Sinn Féin, with one seat each for other parties and Independent groups. On Tuesday, it elected Deputy McNamara, by lunchtime, to be its chair, before a longer-than-expected private session which continued into the late afternoon. For reasons of social distancing and to ensure the committee has legal privilege, the meeting took place in the Dáil chamber, with the Scariff-based …

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Michael McNamara, (Ind) is lifted on shoulders on his election at the Clare General Election 2020 count in The Falls Hotel, Ennistymon. Photograph by John Kelly.

McNamara suggests another General Election could be attractive to Fine Gael

CLARE’S Independent TD has questioned the view that a coalition of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party is the only option when it comes to forming the next government. Deputy Michael McNamara, who has been involved with talks, alongside fellow Independents Michael Fitzmaurice (Rocommon-Galway) and Marian Harkin (Sligo-Leitrim) about supporting such a coalition, said it may be the case that alternatives are viable, if not preferable at this point in time. This week, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Fine Gael Parliamentary Party he is confident a government can be formed by June. However, Deputy McNamara said it may still be the case that Fine Gael’s preference was for another General Election. “The prospect of another election might seen attractive to Fine Gael right now,” he told The Champion. “They will have to be seen to exhaust all possibilities for government formation, then to persuade President Higgins to dissolve the Dáil. The president has some discretion in that regard …

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