Breen welcomes US/Irish Agreement on provision of full pre-clearance facilities at Shannon Airport.

November 20th, 2008 - Pat Breen

Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen has today welcomed the news that finally agreement has been reached by the Irish and American Government which will see the provision of full pre clearance facilities being put in place at Shannon Airport. Deputy Breen is a strong advocate for this project and has lobbied the Irish and US Governments extensively on this issue for the past number of years. Earlier this week Deputy Breen sought to have this issue raised by way of Oral Question to Minister Dempsey and today Deputy Breen accepted the Ministers apology when he acknowledged that he wanted to save the news announcement for his visit to Shannon Airport today.

“I welcome the news today’s announcement by the Minister for Transport and Marine Noel Dempsey T.D. that an agreement between Ireland and the United States will be signed in Washington next week and that this facility will be up and running in Shannon by June of next year.”

“I have been a strong advocate for this project since it was first mooted. I have lobbied the Irish Government extensively at every opportunity available to me by way of parliamentary question, Dail Adjournment Debate, questions and letters to the Taoiseach and Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Transport and Marine to ensure that this project was given the green light. After all it was the former Fine Gael Transport Minister Jim Mitchell (RIP) who signed the original Inter- Government Agreement between Ireland and the US in 1986 when lead to the first US Immigration Pre-Inspection facility been set up in Europe at Shannon Airport.

“Only this week the Minister for Transport and Marine Noel Dempsey refused to answer an Oral Question from me on this matter. Minister Dempsey apologised to me today acknowledging that he wanted to wait to save the news announcement for his visit to Shannon and I accepted his apology.

“Earlier this year when I met the US Ambassador Thomas Foley I was advised that negotiations were near conclusion at that stage. Indeed I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Ambassador Foley for his support and enthusiasm for this project from the very outset and wish him well as he nears the end of his assignment here in Ireland.

“Earlier this year Minister Dempsey promised that both the agreement and legislation would be in place before the end of the year. Today the Minister has only fulfilled half of that promise. The legislation to give effect to the facility must be come before the House at the earliest opportunity so that the facility can be up and running in June of next year.”

“Shannon must take advantage of this unique opportunity as it is expected that a similar facility could be in place in other European Airports within the next two years with Paris Charles De Gaulle and Frankfurt already being mentioned.”

“Shannon Airports Corporate Jet Business could be set for a major take-off boost. Private jet travel is taking off throughout Europe and the market is growing at over 25 percent per year, according to Euro control the number of business jets registered in Europe between 2005 and 2007 rose from around 1,100 to nearly 1,900, an increase of 70% and this could rise to around 4,000 by 2017. The potential for growth is enormous.”

“The future of transatlantic services at Shannon Airport is also very challenging, the provision of full pre clearance facilities is pivotal to the development of US services to and from Shannon both direct and transit and will also be a welcome boost to our Tourism Industry will is in serious crisis.”

“Minister Dempsey must now live up to his commitment and have this legislation brought before the House at the earliest opportunity.”