Breen challenges McSharry to withdraw European Commission complaint on Shannon Airport

January 23rd, 2013 - Pat Breen

Fine Gael Clare Deputy and Chair of the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee, Pat Breen, has today (Wednesday) challenged Fianna Fáil Senator, Mark McSharry, to withdrawn his complaint to the European Commission on the independence of Shannon Airport. Deputy Breen made his comments at the Transport Committee this morning, which was addressed by the Chair of the Shannon Airport Authority, Rose Hynes.

“Senator McSharry appears to be pushing ahead with his plans to make a complaint to the European Commission regarding the Government decision to allow Shannon Airport to regain its independence. This is a very unhelpful development, and I would urge Senator McSharry to consider withdrawing his complaint. The independence of Shannon is something that has been sought for years, and the Government’s plan for the Airport has been overwhelmingly supported by local interests.

“Fianna Fáil has attempted to distance itself from Senator McSharry’s endeavours, but it’s time the Party made up its mind on this issue. Does the Party want a successful, thriving Shannon in the future? And if so, why do Fianna Fáil representatives continue to talk down and hamper the Airport’s best possible chance to succeed?

“Senator McSharry claims that the independence of Shannon will threaten the future of Knock Airport. This is a very negative approach to take, and the future prospects of both airports will not be helped by Fianna Fáil representatives pitting the two facilities against each other. They are uniquely different airports, and should be treated as such. Shannon has an international dimension, which will be enhanced through the development of a world-class aviation industry at the Airport. This is a key component of the Government’s plans for the Airport; plans which Fianna Fáil continue to oppose.

“Knock and Shannon Airports should be working together to ensure the West of the Ireland can benefit from having two high performing airports. Knock, as a regional airport, is not owned by the State, and the Government plays no role in the appointment of its board. However, Knock continues to receive significant support from the Government. In 2012, about €1.3 million was provided to the Airport, and a further €1 million was spent by the tourism agencies for overseas marketing related to Knock Airport and the surrounding region. The Government has launched a consultancy process on the development of an aviation policy for 2014 onwards. Knock Airport has been invited to set out their vision as part of this process, which will be pursued vigorously this year.

“As a Clare TD, I know how important Shannon Airport is to the region. We now have a plan that will put Shannon back on a sustainable footing. This is not a threat to Knock Airport; quite the contrary. A strong and independent Shannon will be of benefit to the entire region. Fianna Fáil would be best served to get behind these plans, and give Shannon its best chance of success for the future.”