The State Airports (Shannon Group) Bill will be published next week and is on track to be enacted by the Summer.

The State Airports (Shannon Group) Bill is the final piece of the jigsaw in relation to securing the future of Shannon Airport and putting the new Shannon Airport Authority on a full legislative footing as envisaged when it was set up. The turnaround at Shannon Airport since the Government set up a new management structure has been remarkable, reversing a five-year passenger decline and seeing new routes added by Ryanair and other airlines.

Deputy Timmy Dooley the Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Transport should get behind this Government’s initiatives which have helped reverse the declining fortunes at Shannon Airport instead of playing politics. The record shows that he and his party voted against the establishment of an Independent Shannon Airport on the 11th of December 2012.  He has said previously that if the Government policies were seen to be working, he would be one of the first to acknowledge them. Well, they are working. Shannon Airport is on the rise, and everyone except Timmy Dooley can see that Government policies have had a huge impact.

Instead of taking cheap political shots the Fianna Fáil Deputy should get behind all those working hard to undo years of political ambivalence by his party and others in relation to Shannon Airport. I stood alone at the last General Election in proposing and campaigning for the separation of Shannon Airport from the Dublin Airport Authority. Deputy Dooley told us that separating Shannon Airport from the clutches of the DAA would be a disaster for the Airport. Instead of the disaster he predicted, we have seen a reversal of the five-year passenger decline which was allowed to happen under Fianna Fáil’s watch. We saw passenger numbers on transatlantic routes increases by 22% in the later half of 2013 and we saw the kinds of conditions created whereby Ryanair have introduced nine new routes at Shannon Airport this summer. The Ryanair decision came on the back of this Government’s decision to abolish the travel tax, and the Government driven Gathering initiative.”

The State Airports (Shannon Group) Bill was discussed at cabinet today and will be published next week. I want to call on Deputy Dooley to set aside his political pettiness, and to vote for The State Airports (Shannon Group) Bill . If he truly is concerned for the future of Shannon Airport, then he should have no difficulty supporting this Bill. Only last week in local media the Fianna Fáil Deputy called on Government to bring the Bill forward. He should stand up and be counted in supporting the only credible solution to the viability of the airport and the region which has been developed in recent years by this Government and those of us who serve in it.