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As levels of international travel continue to grow, Clare’s first citizen has requested that free parking be trialled at Shannon Airport while a long-standing councillor has accused the Government of offering no assistance to keep the doors open at the international airport.

In his first proposal to the local authority since becoming Cathaoirleach of Clare County Council, Cllr PJ Ryan (IND) appealed to the Council to request management of the international airport to “provide free car parking for airline passengers to try and boost passenger numbers at the airport” as a trial.

Vociferous praise for the motion was echoed by Cllr Ann Norton (IND). “Anything that can get people into Shannon is so important when we see the lack of flights coming and going from Shannon”. She believed passengers of Dublin Airport are blind to the benefit of Shannon which she labelled as “a crying shame”. The Mayor of Ennis added, “Shannon is there and Shannon is open, we’ll be 100 percent behind it”.

Trialling free parking alongside “a suite of incentives” could make a difference, Cllr Michael Begley (IND) maintained. “At this time it won’t put much of a hole in their budget, it’s alright parking their cars but getting the flights is what it’s all about and there doesn’t seem to be many of them,” Cllr Gerry Flynn (IND) remarked.

Addition of new flights to Shannon has heightened the importance of fresh ideas at the Airport, Cllr Donna McGettigan (SF) surmised. Tickets to popular attractions in Clare such as the Cliffs of Moher need to be linked to passengers flying into Shannon, Cllr Joe Killeen (FF) emphasised, “we need to link all those things together and put something together”.

Shannon is in direct competition with Dublin Airport, Cllr Pat McMahon (FF) said as he backed the call to add the proposal to other packages. “We have to produce a package to counter-fight what Dublin can produce. It seems Aer Lingus has deserted us, they have given no time or date on when they will resume flights, the Government is not helping one iota to keep Shannon open”.

Clare County Council’s future acquisition of Shannon Heritage sites makes the potential of selling a package for the whole county a reality, Cllr John Crowe (FG) detailed.

“Anything that would boost passenger numbers is very welcome whether that is free car parking or a minimal charge. What we’re seeing in Dublin is not nice with overcrowded car parks, it is hard to find the car when you come back from holidays at Dublin,” Cllr Pat Daly (FF) quipped.

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