Fine Gael Ard Fheis 2021 sees party members call for support of Shannon Airport

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FINE Gael members in Limerick city were fighting for the future of Shannon Airport at the party’s recent virtual Ard Fheis. 

Fine Gael branches and constituencies from Limerick, Clare and Dublin had submitted motions calling for greater support for Shannon and its future to the Ard Fheis. 

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Local Fine Gael members from the Arthur Griffith Branch on the northside of Limerick city called for the Government to examine the immediate introduction of Public Service Obligation routes to international hubs to get the airport back flying as soon as possible. 

Seconding the motion Limerick Delegate Cian Kelly from the Ennis Road said,

“Airports such as Strasburg in France and Larnaca in Cyprus and a number in the eastern Czech Republic currently use public service obligation routes to international destinations within the European Union. 

“Shannon airport as an airport on an island on the western periphery of the European Union has a much stronger need for public service obligation routes to connect the Midwest and West of Ireland post Brexit and COVID-19,” he said.

In calling for a public service obligation route to be introduce as a matter of urgency between Shannon and Heathrow he added, “the Government introduced public service obligation routes on roll on roll off ferries between Ireland and the UK post Brexit. However multinationals in Limerick and tourism up and down the Wild Atlantic Way urgently need the immediate return of Shannon Heathrow flights and they cannot wait for Eamon Ryan to commission another report on Shannon Airport or for Aer Lingus to deem their reintroduction commercially viable given what we’ve recently seen from them in relation to Shannon.”  

“In addition to Heathrow, the Midwest and west of Ireland needs a direct connection to the heart of the European Union post-Brexit and a public service obligation route to Paris Charles de Gaulle with its TGV connection to Brussels is essential and this could be easily delivered with type of aircraft formerly operated by Aer Lingus regional from Shannon”. 

These routes no doubt will prove extremely profitable in time, but they currently need government help to get off the ground and to focus minds. 

Ireland South MEP Sean Kelly said, “the strategic importance of Shannon Airport cannot be overstated not just for the Mid-West but for the entire West of Ireland hopefully this motion will initiate a renewed urgency & support for Shannon”. 

Deputy Kieran O’Donnell Chairman of the Oireachtas Transport committee said, “this motion identifies the critical and strategic need that Shannon Airports Heathrow and Transatlantic connects provide the entire West Coast of Ireland. Today (June 22), I raised this issue with the CEO of Aer Lingus when she was before the Transport committee who told us that they intend to recommence the Heathrow flights relatively quickly and the transatlantic flights thereafter which are vital for industry and tourism”. 

Senator Maria Byrne from Limerick City said, “I have already raised this motion on the floor of the Senate during our recent aviation debate and I am committed to working with my colleagues from across the Mid-West in urging Ministers Eamon Ryan and Minister for State Hildegard Naughton to initiate the tender process for these public service obligation routes as a priority”. 

The motion was passed at the Ard Fheis with the support of 96% of Delegates.

Motion 4.1 as passed with 96% support.

“This Ard Fheis recognizes the importance of Shannon International Airport to the national economy, and to international connectivity, the importance of the aviation sector, in general and the Ireland’s rebound and post COVID recovery, and calls on the government to support the sector and its workers, secure the restoration of the Aer Lingus Shannon base, transatlantic flights and the protection of the Heathrow slots and other hubs and to examine the introduction of public service obligation routes to guarantee connectivity, especially for regions such as the Midwest the South and West of Ireland.”

Proposed by Clare Constituency Executive, Dublin Fingal Constituency Executive & Arthur Griffith Branch Limerick City.