As they congregated for their first meeting since May’s local elections, successful candidates in the Shannon Municipal District set out their stall for the next five years by pinpointing the future of Shannon Airport as the biggest concern.
Independent councillor PJ Ryan prompted the discussion, signalling his disapproval with the current situation at Shannon Airport. “We need to show leadership and have an input with the Airport. Sometimes it is extremely quiet, I’d be saying to Cathal in his role and I know well he will do his best, Gerry as Chair of the Shannon District and the Director need to up the ante to get Shannon performing 100%, it is definitely not performing 100% at the minute”.
“There are problems with marketing and we’re blaming Dublin, one of the major problems is the amount of people being taken out of the area on buses, it is a crazy situation”. The Cratloe resident referred to a thesis conducted by his niece-in-law which surveyed the amount of people leaving Galway City on buses, 87 percent of which were going to Dublin Airport on transatlantic flights. “We need to change that whether that’s from Government or not, the flights are coming from Dublin but that’s a chicken and egg situation”.
Cathaoirleach of the Shannon MD, Cllr Gerry Flynn was “glad” to see the debate taking place. He was hopeful political events may see Minister for Transport, Shane Ross visit the county. “With an election pending, the Minister might have a meeting in Shannon. He is the first Minister to have land sickness because he doesn’t want to leave Dublin”.
Cllr John Crowe declared action must be taken otherwise there is a risk of the Airport disappearing. “In a fortnight there are 40 of us flying from Sixmilebridge to France and we have to go from Dublin which is a disaster. We should be sitting down on a one to one level with these people (Shannon Group). If we don’t do something soon, there will be no Airport, everything is going into Dublin. The whole Mid West should stand united on this and fight for our Airport”.
Fianna Fáil’s Cathal Crowe felt Shannon Airport was “the important issue” of the MD. He reflected on being appointed the Cathaoirleach of the Shannon MD in 2014 and revealed he was only invited to the Airport on one such occasion whilst in the position. “We are an arm in local Government, Shane Ross is a long way away but we are always here, we should be working in parallel and in tandem with them. There needs to be a forum which allows us to feed in and have a regular say in the Airport. Maybe an SPC would link in with them, it needs to be recognised and respected so that we don’t go cap in hand to the Airport, it hasn’t been good enough heretofore”.
His party colleague, Cllr Pat McMahon confirmed that in his new post as Chair of the Economic Development Strategic Policy Committee (SPC), “The number one priority will be Shannon Airport”, to which Cllr Flynn responded “It will dovetail nicely with the Economic SPC”.