Houses of the Oireachtas

All parliamentary debates are now being published on our new website. The publication of debates on this website will cease in December 2018.

Go to

Shannon Airport: Motion (Continued)

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 1

First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page

(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Luke 'Ming' Flanagan: Information on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan Zoom on Luke 'Ming' Flanagan] At the next general election they will not be able to ask voters to vote for them on the grounds that a Government Deputy will be able to do something for them. They will be able to do something all right, namely, manage the lowering of the number of passengers to Knock Airport in order to facilitate Shannon Airport. I have no problem with Shannon Airport and hope it thrives, but it needs to work in tandem with Knock Airport and the whole region, rather than having a desperate stand-alone policy to try to save a few votes for a few Government Deputies in the area.

  I understand the Knock Airport group which includes Mr. Liam Scollan appeared before the Joint Committee on Transport and Communications last week. It stated it had serious concerns about the quality and level of engagement with the Government. Mr. Scollan stated:

We have met Minister Varadkar and his officials on numerous occasions, but our representations have not been afforded fair consideration. In fact, the Minister is clearly on the record in both national and local media that Knock Airport was the problem for Shannon and that he intended to develop policies to rectify that.

What does that mean? The meaning is obvious - the Government is going to attempt to destroy one of the most successful entities in Connacht. Mr. Scollan has stated: "Hopefully he [the Minister] may soon commence to see that his and the Government’s policies are a cause of great concern for the airport and the community of 800,000 it serves."

  The Government has failed at trying to keep people in the country. Knock Airport is not just for tourists as it provides the only opportunity men and women who must go to work in London during the week have to see their families at the weekend, yet the Government wants to damage and banjax it. Well done.

Deputy Joe Carey: Information on Joe Carey Zoom on Joe Carey I wish to share time with Deputy Patrick O'Donovan.

Let us remember the great innovators and business pioneers associated with Shannon Airport. What would they have made of the Government's vision for the airport and region, as announced last week and outlined in the motion? They would have applauded the new structures and been enthused by the business plan. Shannon Airport has always embraced and been empowered by a pioneering spirit. It has always adapted to and driven change in the aviation industry and can do so again under the proposed plans. In the past decade the airport was allowed to wither slowly, accelerated by political ambivalence and legislative failure. It was a State airport in name only. After the Open Skies policy, in particular, it was left to its own devices, without assistance or direction from Dublin. Coupled with this, its hands were tied by the bureaucratic and centralised Dublin Airport Authority, DAA, an agency more interested in minding Dublin Airport than facilitating Shannon Airport.

My Government colleagues and I in County Clare were elected with a clear mandate to take action in regard to Shannon Airport. Extensive consultations and expert advice, including a detailed submission made by many to Booz & Company last November, highlighted a clear desire that we take back ownership to have some influence over the airport. I am pleased to say I submitted an in-depth report that is strongly endorsed in the proposals adopted by the Government. We now have an independent Shannon Airport, free from the shackles of the DAA, but it is still State-owned. Crucially, we have dealt with the debt issue and ensured Shannon Airport will begin the next phase of its commercial life without the burden of historical debt. The achievement of debt-free status should not be underestimated. Fianna Fáil, when in government, failed to take this decision during the so-called good times. The Government will ensure the €100 million debt is no longer a drag on Shannon Airport. I very much welcome this and I am particularly pleased the ensuing interest on the debt is no longer a charge with which the new Shannon Airport will have to be concerned.

Last Updated: 06/05/2020 11:55:12 First Page Previous Page Page of 109 Next Page Last Page