LOCAL Government and Heritage Minister Darragh O’Brien has said that a number of options have been identified to support the transfer of Shannon Heritage sites from the Shannon Airport Group to Clare County Council.

He was responding to Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey who asked him to outline the level of engagement his Department has had with Clare County Council; the amount of additional expenditure involved for his Department and when he expects this process to be completed.

Minister O’Brien said that the Shannon Airport Group continues to engage with Clare County Council in relation to the proposed transfer of Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, Craggaunowen, Knappogue Castle, and the Cliffs of Moher retail outlet. 

“As part of that engagement, Clare County Council identified a funding gap of €15 million or €5 million a year for three years.

The Department of Transport established an inter-departmental working group in May 2022 to examine funding options. The working group has met a number of times, most recently on January 23, and has identified a number of ways the proposed transfer could be supported.

“Subject to submission of a suitable proposal and costings, funding towards National Monuments Service approved conservation works at Bunratty Castle could be considered by the Heritage Division of my Department.

“My Department will continue to engage with the inter-departmental working group and Clare County Council to support progress in the transfer of the remaining Shannon Heritage sites to Clare County Council in 2023,” Minister O’Brien added.

Commenting on the reference to options being identified to support the transfer, Deputy Carey called for a more focused effort to bring those options to fruition.

“This process has been allowed drag on for too long. A successful transfer is not only in the best interests of the Shannon Heritage workers but also an absolute necessity in terms of the tourism and hospitality sector in the Mid-West region,” Deputy Carey added.