The past month saw Shannon Airport move centre stage with two senior Government Ministers, Leo Varadkar and Richard Bruton, making a joint statement following cabinet approval giving Independence to Shannon Airport from the DAA and bringing it together with Shannon Development to form a new entity with a commercial mandate in public ownership. While more detail has yet to emerge, some of the negative commentary around Government plans for the Airport is clearly political posturing at a time when we should all be getting behind Shannon Airport. Currently, a steering group is being established. The steering group will include a number of senior civil servants from five departments. Two sub-groups will be formed who will report to the steering group, one dealing with the development of an aviation centre of excellence and the other dealing with change management. Shannon Airport is a key priority of this Government and I look forward to working closely with all interests over the coming months as the detailed plan is being prepared.
In recent months, I had asked commuters on the Western Rail Corridor to tell me their issues with the service, through my Facebook page. I subsequently wrote to Irish Rail asking for clarification on a number of issues, including the fact that online booking is not available on the Ennis to Athenry route. I was glad to be able to confirm this month that Irish Rail will now introduce online booking from September and relayed this information to commuters via local and national media.
I used my speaking time in the Dáil to highlight issues around subcontractors, during a debate on the Construction Contractors Bill. The Bill’s aim is to help subcontractors to secure their rightful payment by introducing an interim payment of money due, statutory rights and a new adjudication system to arbitrate where disputes arise. I argued that money from liquidations should be ring-fenced for payment to suppliers and subcontractors, and I know this is an issue that has impacted on many in County Clare.
The visit of An Taoiseach Enda Kenny to Loop Head, where his grandfather worked, helped promote this incredible tourist resource. I arranged a visit by An Taoiseach to my old school St Flannan’s College where he met with students who won second place in their category at the elite NASA/Ames annual space settlement design competition.
Following a very strong campaign for the EU Fiscal Compact Treaty Referendum I was delighted that the people of Clare voted in such an overwhelming fashion to endorse the Treaty. This was a very important referendum. A Yes vote brings certainty about how we as a Government can fund the state into the future and also sends out a very positive message internationally to potential investors in our Country.
I was thrilled to welcome students from Clarecastle National School together with their teachers to Leinster House where they had a memorable tour of the Houses of the Oireachtas.