County Clare was very much to the fore on both the national and international political agenda in the past month, highlighting the benefits of having three local TDs in Government. The visit of the Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping was an important one for future economic co-operation between Ireland and China and I was honoured to meet with him in Bunratty. Government will be pushing hard for Irish beef and dairy exports to benefit from this visit, which would in turn have a positive impact on the livelihood of many Clare farmers. This work will continue in the months ahead with visits of An Taoiseach and others to China. On a more local level, I was delighted to achieve success in having the River Fergus removed from a new national fishing bye-law, following representation from Clare anglers. I liaised directly with the relevant authorities and with Government colleagues and it represented a good day for both angling and tourist interests here in Clare.
The one issue which possibly dominated all others last month was the future of Shannon Airport. This is an issue I have worked on for many years and particularly in the past year when I took the opportunity to make a detailed submission to Booz and Co on the future of the airport. This submission involved consultation with all the various stakeholders and is available to view on my website, www.joecarey.ie. I was very heartened to see many of the recommendations I made to Booz and Co included in their final report, which was published last week. A political will now exists to sort out Shannon Airport, following years of neglect by successive Fianna Fáil governments who promised much but delivered little. It is vital we get this right and I spent much of last week communicating the genesis of the report to both local and national media, and also informing the public of its contents through my website, Facebook and Twitter accounts.
The next step for Shannon now is for a Government decision on which recommendations to adapt. This decision will be taken by Easter and in the coming weeks I will be working closely with the Minister for Transport to ensure the best possible outcome for Shannon Airport, County Clare and the Mid-West region as a whole.