QUESTION MARKS surrounding the sudden resignation of Pádraig Ó Céidigh from Shannon Group must be answered before the campaign to appoint his successor begins, a Clare TD has argued while his exit has been described as ‘a huge setback’.

As first reported by The Clare Echo, former CEO and founder of Aer Arann, Ó Céidigh announced his resignation as Chairman of Shannon Group in a letter to Minister for Transport, Eamon Ryan (GP) on Wednesday.

Ó Ceidigh was appointed as Chair in September on a three year term but he has ended his tenure, after six months.

CEO of Shannon Group, Mary Considine in a brief statement to The Clare Echo, paid tribute to the former Senator. “I would like to thank Pádraig for his contribution to the Group as we continue to rebuild our business in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. I would like to wish him well in his future endeavours.”

Former Clare TD, James Breen (IND) described the development as “very disappointing”. He told The Clare Echo, “there must be something erratically wrong that after six months, he has to hand in his resignation, something needs to be investigated as to why he resigned. I think Shannon is on the up and it’s a pity to see this setback”.

Breen was of the view that the resumption of transatlantic flights and the return of the Heathrow service had put Shannon in a stronger position. “Everything has to be done to find a suitable replacement or else give him mechanism to run Shannon Airport properly. Shannon is an engine for growth in the west of Ireland, we cannot do anything to damage that. Every effort must be made to get someone suitable to bring someone in who can bring airport from strength to strength”.

Clare TD, Joe Carey (FG) said that a detailed analysis must be undertaken to establish why the Connermara native resigned.

Speaking in the Dáil on Thursday, Deputy Carey praised the initial efforts of Mr Ó Céidigh. “Mr Ó Céidigh rolled up his sleeves and in a post-pandemic world we have seen transatlantic services restored and the restoration of the vital hub at Heathrow. Ryanair services have multiplied. Indeed, the summer schedule in Shannon boasts 26 destinations with 108 weekly departures. He has done a wonderful job. It is going to be hard to replace somebody of the calibre of Pádraig Ó Céidigh as chairperson”.

He added, “Prior to a new recruitment campaign starting, I ask that a detailed analysis be undertaken to establish the reasons he stood down as chairperson. That analysis must be looked at, considered and acted on before a new recruitment process is started”.

Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe (FG) admitted that the departure of “a person of the calibre of Mr Ó Céidigh is a regret”. He continued, “It is a pity he is not going to be in a position to continue with that work on behalf of the Shannon Group. I understand that the reason he made the decision was the amount of time he needed to put into the role and it not being consistent with all the other commitments he has currently.

“Yes, of course we will look at what is the proper specification of this role. The Department of Transport along with the Public Appointments Service will work hard to try to get a person of similar calibre to Mr Ó Céidigh,” Mr Donohoe added in response to Deputy Carey.

Deputy Carey told The Clare Echo, “I’m really disappointed he has stepped down. Pádraig is a really good guy and will be hard replaced. He had the confidence of so many people throughout the county and region particularly the business community. It will be difficult to get a replacement of his calibre, particularly with his aviation industry experience”.

Representatives of Shannon Group and the Department of Transport should appear before the Oireachtas Transport Committee to discuss the path forward for Shannon Group, Cathal Crowe TD (FF) maintained. “I, like so many people in this region with high interest and concern for Shannon Airport, saw huge hope in Ó Céidigh’s appointment. We need to know why he is no longer able to fulfil his role and also appoint a suitable replacement ASAP”.

Crowe confirmed he has written to the Chairperson of the Oireachtas Transport Committee, Deputy Kieran O’Donnell (FG) “to suggest that we urgently summon Mr Ó Céidigh, Mary Considine and Fintan Towey, Assistant Secretary for Aviation in the Department of Transport, to appear before our committee to discuss the reasons behind this resignation and the pathway forward in terms of a replacement.

“Shannon Airport enjoyed bumper passenger numbers last weekend and overall is making good inroads in terms of recovery to pre-Covid levels of operation. A strong character, with an aviation background, is urgently needed to drive on this recovery and we need to strike while the iron is hot here,” the Meelick native added.

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If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

Subscribe for just €3 per month

If you’re here, you care about County Clare. So do we. Did you rely on us for Covid-19 updates, follow our election coverage, or visit The Clare Echo every week for breaking news and sport? The Clare Echo invests in local journalism and we want to safeguard its future in our county. By becoming a subscriber you are supporting what we do, will receive access to all our premium articles and a better experience, while helping us improve our offering to you. Subscribe to clareecho.ie and get the first six months for just €3 a month (less than 75c per week), and thereafter €8 per month. Cancel anytime, limited time offer. T&Cs Apply. www.clareecho.ie.

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