Transport Minister refuses to be drawn as Breen is ruled out on the Dail’s Order of Business as he attempts to raise the issue of the reinstatement of the Shannon/Heathrow Service.

December 18th, 2008 - Pat Breen

Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen was ruled out of order by the Ceann Comhairle when he tried to raise the issue of the importance of reinstating the Shannon/Heathrow Service on the Order of Business in the Dail this Afternoon while the Transport and Marine Minister Noel Dempsey was in the chamber and would not be drawn on the matter.

"In light of the ongoing debate in terms of the Ryanair Takeover Bid for Aer Lingus and the sacrifices made by the Aer Lingus Staff in Shannon Airport which has resulted in a significant reduction in the Airlines operating costs at the Airport, I believe that there is now a window of opportunity for the Minister Dempsey to put forward the case for the instatement of this service in his deliberations with Aer Lingus."

"This connectivity is pivotal to job creation in the Region and yesterday’s announcement at the US Based Microsemi in Ennis where a daily direct transatlantic service is available points to the vital contribution that access plays in attracting direct Foreign Investment."

"The reinstatement of a Shannon Heathrow Service is essential if this Region is battle against the dark economic clouds which have been circling over us now for a considerable period of time. The upward trend of the Live register figures in County Clare has shown the number of those people signing on growing by 57.6% in the past 12 months from 4406 in November 2007 to 6944 in November 2008. We have also been hit with a series of high profile job loss announcements at GE Money in Shannon and at Element Six in the Industrial Zone. The job loss announcements at Element Six are particularly worrying in the context of the loss of the Shannon/Heathrow Service as the Company had forewarned of the challenges they would face following the withdrawal of the service."

"I am disappointed that Minister Dempsey would not comment today. However, with both the CEO of Aer Lingus Dermot Mannion and the CEO of Ryanair Michael O’Leary due before the Transport Committee on Thursday morning, I intend to keep up the pressure on the Minister.

There is a short window of opportunity now for Shannon Airport and for the reinstatement of this service. I intend to pursue the Minister and the Government to make sure that they do not allow this opportunity to slip.