Labour sets out eight-point plan on the future of Shannon Airport

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

LABOUR has said the incoming Government could partly fund the proposed cargo hub for Shannon without running foul of EU state aid rules.

LABOUR has said the incoming Government could partly fund the proposed cargo hub for Shannon without running foul of EU state aid rules.

And the party also wants Shannon to be part of a state holding company saying if could not survive as an independent commercial entity.

Two years ago, Shannon signed a memorandum of understanding with US firm Lynxs for the development of a cargo hub at Shannon but the deal was dependent on a €7 million investment.

DAA chairman David Dilger has said that the Government could not afford this and the DAA could only invest if the business was viable. Question marks have also been raised if the Government can fund the project under EU regulations.

But Labour candidates Deputy Jan O’Sullivan and Cllr Joe Leddin - who yesterday laid out the party’s eight-point plan for the future of Shannon - believe it can.

“My understanding is the DAA would be willing to help with the cost of it. We very strongly believe that Government must provide the rest and I think if we work in co-operation with DAA that there will not be a problem with regard to EU rules and so on,” said Deputy O’Sullivan.

Cllr Leddin said Labour was committed to providing such a facility in Shannon which, combined with an extension of US pre-clearance to include cargo, would deliver investment to the region.

“We support the development of specific warehousing facilities that would allow biopharma products for example be stored in temperature controlled warehouses,” he said.

This would give a “competitive advantage” in attracting such businesses to Ireland and allow the IDA improve its record in the Mid-West where “of the 11,000 jobs delivered (by the IDA) last year, less than one per cent came to Limerick - a frightening statistic which would make you ask what the Government representatives here have been doing for Limerick - you would have to say very little”.

On the management structure at Shannon, Deputy O’Sullivan said Labour opposed the “PD-inspired” break-up and proposed privatisation of Aer Rianta. Shannon could not be independent with its current burden of debt and losses, she said.

“We do not believe Shannon can survive on its own at the moment. We do not believe the airports can be split up and that is why we are proposing a holding company. But we do believe Shannon needs the freedom to make separate commercial decisions when negotiating with airlines. The model we see is airports should be under one holding company because Shannon at the moment simply can’t survive on its own or repay its debts.” Labour also proposes a name change for the Dublin Airport Authority to reflect the fact it runs Shannon and Cork, Deputy O’Sullivan said.