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26/10/2021

WATCH: Minister criticised as fresh review planned at Shannon Airport

TRANSPORT Minister Eamon Ryan has been criticised after commissioning another report on the future of Shannon.

A fresh taskforce into future of the Shannon Estuary has been announced, following in the footsteps of the aviation taskforce last year, a review of the Shannon group by the Department of Transport and the publication of a Joint Oireachtas Committee report on aviation in December.

Senator Paul Gavan described the airport as “a slow-motion car crash”, and said action is needed – not more reports.

He said his "heart sank" when he heard news of another report.

"If it wasn't such a serious matter, I would wonder if he thought he was in an episode of Father Ted, turning as Dougal to Ted saying is there anything to be said for another report? I mean, my God!"

“Rather than take concrete action to save our airport, Minister Ryan wants yet another report. Meanwhile, key decisions are pending from Aer Lingus with regard to the Heathrow slots, which will no longer be guaranteed to Shannon from September of next year. And crucially Minister Ryan continues to ignore the demand that a new airport authority be established,” said the Sinn Fein senator.

“Re-integrating Shannon with Dublin and Cork, and ending the ludicrous situation where Shannon has to compete directly with Dublin Airport for business.”

“At some point the Minister must find the courage to bring fundamental structural change to Shannon. The problem is that instead of using the time of Covid to re-engineer aviation policy in line with regional economic policy, the Minister has floundered and appears utterly incapable of making any positive policy choices to stave off the collapse of our international airport," Mr Gavan concluded.

Speaking in response to the debate in the Seanad - which this week is sitting in Dublin's Convention Centre - the Upper House's leader Regina Doherty agreed with the Castleconnell-based Senator.

"We've had too many task forces, we've had too many reports, and far too little action. What we need to see now is absolute action, and we need to see it right now. Not in a few weeks or a few months when we're all aghast at more job losses in the aviation industry which will trickle down to the hospitality industry," she said.

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