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Shannon Airport: Motion (Continued)

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 786 No. 1

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Joe Carey: Information on Joe Carey Zoom on Joe Carey] It is disappointing that some local public representatives have failed to acknowledge this great advancement. The new board at Shannon Airport has a once in a lifetime chance to make this new initiative succeed and it will drive the establishment of an international aviation services centre. Already we have a commitment to the creation of 850 jobs from private companies which see merit in the proposals made. Should the airport develop as envisaged, the job numbers are likely to multiply.

As often happens with significant change such as this, there is an element of uncertainty and fear. I know workers have concerns. I have met some of them and listened to them express their concerns directly. However, doing nothing in regard to Shannon Airport was the most certain way of threatening the livelihoods of the workforce. Workers are protected by the terms of their employment and I believe that in time the developments taking place will enhance their security. Let there be no doubt that the future prospects of the airport are very much dependent on having a satisfied and appreciated workforce. It is important, therefore, that clear and constructive lines of communication are established and maintained in the new structures. We need the workforce's expertise, endeavour and proven ability to adapt to changing work environments.

Disappointment has been expressed that Aer Rianta International will not form part of the new Shannon Airport. In part, this is a legacy issue, as the option of setting up Aer Rianta International as a subsidiary of Shannon Airport was blocked by the Dublin Airport Authority years ago. Therefore, the only commercial option at this point is to leave Aer Rianta International as part of the Dublin Airport Authority if Shannon Airport is to begin life debt free. In time a prosperous Shannon Airport will see this decision as a necessary one and initiatives similar to Aer Rianta International can be established under the new structures.

In recent days some elected representatives have tried to maximise this issue for political gain. These are the very ones who stood idly by as Shannon Airport fell further and further down the pecking order of the political agenda. I am not interested in political games. I want all key stakeholders in the region to get behind this plan for Shannon Airport and the mid-west. As the Minister has outlined, without serious action, there would be a question mark over the viability of Shannon Airport in remaining as a 24-hour a day international transport hub. The time for empty rhetoric and unrealistic demands is over.

Deputy Timmy Dooley: Information on Timmy Dooley Zoom on Timmy Dooley It is a sell-out.

Deputy Joe Carey: Information on Joe Carey Zoom on Joe Carey Shannon Airport needs action and a concerted effort if it is to truly prosper. I genuinely look forward with optimism to it recovering the pioneering spirit which has stood to it so well over the decades. I wholeheartedly support the motion.

Deputy Patrick O'Donovan: Information on Patrick O'Donovan Zoom on Patrick O'Donovan It is important to state I represent a constitutency, with Deputy Niall Collins, in which the Shannon story started in a much different format with sea planes and flying boats. Since then under many Governments the airport has received the political support of political parties of all colours. The vision of the early pioneers who built Shannon Airport at Rineanna and the political support it received from some quarters at the time should be acknowledged. Some spoke about rabbits running around the runways. The Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport has taken this initiative to make sure that prophesy does not come to pass - that rabbits will not be running around the runways. In recent years the people of the mid-west have seen the sad decline of the airport. Every time one goes there - it is one of the finest facilities in the country - one notes fewer cars parking places are occupied. Therefore, something had to be done. The establishment of an independent airport that can compete on a level playing field with other airports in the west is something these other airports in the west should welcome and embrace. They should examine how Shannon Airport and they can work together. It is a long drive from Castletownbere to Malin Head and it should be noted that there are four functioning airports in the west. There is an opportunity for them to come together to develop a strategy that would support and meet the needs of all the people in the region.

The proposal brought forward by the Government, as the Minister said, relates not only to Shannon Airport but also to Shannon Development.

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