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*Photograph: Joe Buckley

A Clare TD has accused the Government of engaging in a “cynical PR exercise” after Department officials attempted to portray monies allocated to Shannon Airport as new funding.

On Monday morning, the Department of Transport stated that €6.3m had been allocated to Shannon Airport under the COVID-19 Regional State Airports Programme 2021, funding which had already been announced in November.

Back in November, the Department detailed that under the Regional State Airports Programme, Shannon and Cork Airports would share €22.1m, consisting of €15 million in current funding and a further €6.5 million in capital funding for 2021.

In a statement to The Clare Echo, Deputy Michael McNamara (IND) outlined, “the rehashing of a funding announcement from over five months ago is an insult to the 140,000 people employed in Ireland’s aviation sector who have repeatedly but unsuccessfully sought Government to produce a recovery plan for the sector”.

He believed the Department by announcing old news was “a case of the Government buying time in the absence of any clear reopening strategy for our airports but this cynicism will not be not lost on management and workers at Shannon Airport, who are being asked to live on hope”.

“We have a larger aviation sector than most other European countries of our size and we are more reliant on-air connectivity than most other States, yet our Government has delayed any consideration of a recovery plan. As air travel resumes across Europe and North America, the Government’s continued delay in developing such a plan will have a significant impact on the broader economy, Foreign Direct Investment, tourism, and employment in the aviation sector itself and all the other sectors that rely on connectivity,” the Scariff native added.

McNamara said that funding from central Government “can never compensate for a lack of a balanced aviation policy, which I have called for repeatedly in Dáil Éireann since the introduction of restrictions affecting our aviation sector. Shannon Airport needs a leg-up from the next Government more than it needs a hand-out”.

Shannon Group had responded to the announcement from Junior Minister Hildegarde Naughton (FG) which confirmed the allocation of €6.3m and acknowledged that the details were first announced last year.

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