I note that Fianna Fáil’s Transport Spokesperson, Timmy Dooley TD, of talking down the best hope of saving Shannon Airport before the Government has even published its plans.
Deputy Dooley has been on the local and national airwaves today, dismissing out of hand proposals being put forward to secure the viability of Shannon. Deputy Dooley lives in Clare; he knows how important the airport is to the region. His own Government wasted every opportunity to put the facility back on a sustainable footing. And yet now, when a radical plan is being developed to completely overhaul the airport, he doesn’t want to know about it.
Let’s be realistic; Shannon Airport faces a very uncertain future unless we take decisive action. The Government consulted widely with local interests who were overwhelmingly in favour of separating Shannon Airport and putting it on a sustainable footing.
I have been consistently raising the future viability with Minister Varadkar since we came into Government. The airport has been left to fall into a state of decline in recent years; a situation which must be reversed for both the airport and the wider region. Minister Varadkar has listened, and the Government is taking action. Radical proposals were put forward in April, and we can expect formalised plans to be presented in the coming days.
I have long advocated that Shannon should move towards an independent governance model, working with other agencies to attract international aviation-based services to the region. In this way, Shannon can deliver more routes, passengers and cargo to the airport, ensuring economic viability in the process.
Fianna Fáil’s solution for Shannon Airport was to do nothing, and keep on doing it. If Deputy Dooley really cared about Shannon Airport, he would have used the opportunity of today’s questions to the Minister for Transport in the Dáil to raise the matter by way of an oral question. He didn’t.