*Photograph: Joe Buckley
Two Clare TDs have said the process to appoint the new Chair of the Shannon Group needs to be slowed down.
In the space of six hours last Tuesday, former CEO of Aurivo Aaron Forde was appointed as Rose Hynes’ successor in the role and then was vacated from the position when a series of old tweets emerged which criticised the Traveller community, social welfare recipients, the Green Party and called the Tanáiste Leo Varadkar (FG) a leak.
Chair of the all-party Shannon Airport Oireachtas Group, Joe Carey TD (FG) stated that the group is seeking the process of appointing a new Shannon Group chair to be paused. They have sought further engagement with Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan (GP) “ahead of a new recruitment process being entered into”.
Established last May, the Shannon Airport Oireachtas Group consists of all 21 Oireachtas Members from the constituencies of Clare, Limerick City, Limerick County and Tipperary.
Deputy Carey in a letter to Minister Ryan stated that Shannon Airport “is the key driver of economic activity in the Mid-West and it’s wellbeing is of immense importance to all of us”. He added, “the challenges in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic are stark and we all have a collective role and responsibility as elected representatives to play to ensure that this vital asset for our industrial base, for business, tourism and hospitality is secured and promoted”.
He described the appointment of the Chair as “key and critical not just for Shannon Airport but the entire region”. The Clarecastle native added, “We need an extremely capable person to take on the role of Chairperson of Shannon Group, somebody who understands that Shannon is much more than just an Airport, who can chart a course to recovery and develop plans to deliver on its potential adding more passengers, more routes and more destinations. A new Chairperson of the Board must also have the ability to bring stakeholders together in the interest of Shannon Airport and the region”.
A review of the process used to select a chair must be carried out, South Clare based TD Cathal Crowe (FF) believed. He noted that the selection of Aaron Forde took from August last year up until mid-February of 2021 and called for the process to be slowed down to find the right candidate. “The bottom line is Shannon needs someone who understands the pivotal role that the airport has had right back to the 1960s but who also gets that it is a catalyst for economic activity and industry in the region.
“As our country navigates through Covid-19, Shannon will be central in the Midwest region to the economic recovery that we aspire to. I hope the new chair, whoever they will be, will be someone that understands aviation thoroughly and who has a positive track record of aggressively driving on business. So much rides on this new position and the staff who work in Shannon Airport, the manufacturing facilities and the airlines based there wait with bated breath for news on who it will be, but I think a slight slowing down at this stage would be good, in terms of selecting the absolute right candidate for the role,” the Meelick native commented.
Their comments come as current Shannon Group board member Mike Quinn, a former CEO of both Ervia and Bord Na Mona was linked to the role while The Clare Echo understands ex owner of Aer Arann Pádraig Ó Céidigh has been suggested as a potential candidate for the vacancy.