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*Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan (GP) flanked by Shannon Group CEO Mary Considine and former Shannon Group Chair, Pádraig Ó Céidigh. 

FRESH INFORMATION has emerged surrounding Pádraig Ó Céidigh’s sudden resignation as Chairman of Shannon Group.

After only six months in the role, Ó Céidigh stepped down as Chairperson of the Shannon Group board in March. He had been appointed on a three-year term with remuneration of €21,600 per annum, and time requirements advertised as between 15-20 days a year and the attendance of at least eight board meetings.

Three months on from outlining his long-term vision and plan for Shannon Airport, the founder of Aer Arann issued his letter of resignation to Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan (GP). The Green Party leader approved the appointment of Ó Céidigh in October, it followed a fiasco with the attempted proposal to place former Chief Executive of agri-business Aurivo into the Chair but this did not proceed after a series of distasteful tweets emerged.

Ó Céidigh is reported to have relayed to close colleagues that he lacked the support of “key people” within Shannon Group, he was “not kept in the loop” and appeared to be “frozen out of information”. The former Senator has yet to comment publicly on his Shannon Group exit.

Chairperson of the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Energy, Kieran O’Donnell (FG) told The Clare Echo that they have yet to organise for Ó Céidigh to appear before them to establish further reasons into his exit. “That is a discussion that will take place with the collective committee itself, that is something we will discuss,” the Limerick TD stated.

The Clare Echo understands that Ó Céidigh met with Minister Ryan on February 23rd and exactly one month later tendered his resignation,” the entrepreneur outlined in his resignation letter. The Chairperson of Shannon Group must give “significant time input” so that “the undoubted opportunities available to Shannon can be properly exploited,” he stated.

“Unfortunately, as my role is non-executive and I have very significant commitments beyond the Shannon Group, I am not in a position to devote the time necessary to make Shannon Airport the catalyst for growth it should be for the west of Ireland,” Ó Céidigh added.

In correspondence to the Minister, the former winner of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award flagged how 40 percent of US Foreign Direct Investment is located within the catchment area of Shannon Airport. He stressed that Shannon Airport was lacking “essential” connectivity to a European hub, “Currently, that lack of European hub connectivity hinders and increases the cost of doing business for companies in the region and acts as a barrier for inward tourism. Linking Shannon to one or several major European hubs would support the region’s future economic development, attracting vital tourists and businesses to the region”.

He encouraged Minister Ryan to put in place improved public transport connectivity to Shannon Airport and believed the Bus Éireann express Galway to Limerick bus which travels via Shannon led to a “disincentive to use public transport to and from the Airport”.

Long-term inclusion of Shannon in the Regional Airports Programme was also highlighted in the correspondence. Ó Céidigh noted that European Commission rules would allow Shannon Airport to qualify for the RAP if there was a change to government policy. “Such a move would assist the group to contribute to the region’s recovery and further economic growth and would align with the objectives of Project 2040 of balanced regional development”.

Appointments of Shannon Group Chairpersons is a matter for the Minister for Transport, a spokesperson for the commercial semi-state company said. “Mr Ó’Ceidigh indicated that due to other business commitments he was unable to continue in the role,” the spokesperson added while referencing the “considerable success” in recent times of restoring air services.

“Ongoing engagement” occurred between Minister Ryan and Ó Céidigh during his brief spell as Shannon Group Chair, a spokesperson for the Department of Transport stated.

When asked by The Clare Echo if he would have concerns Ó Céidigh’s successor Conal Henry would encounter similar issues, Deputy O’Donnell responded, “Pádraig Ó Céidigh for his own reasons, work and family commitments left, Conal Henry is a very good appointment, he appears to have very good knowledge around the area, he has formal experience in the aviation sector, we look forward to working with him collectively as a committee in terms of Shannon Airport itself, he will be in before our committee shortly which is the procedure in terms of a Chair designate taking up positions”.

 

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