Aviation Authority chairwoman says she did not lobby Taoiseach

Rose Hynes
Former Shannon Group Chairperson Rose Hynes

by Bernie English

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THE NEW chairwoman of the Irish Aviation Authority has told a Dáil committee she was not lobbying former Taoiseach Leo Varadkar when she spoke to him after learning that she would not be reappointed as chairwoman of the Shannon Group in 2019.

Rose Hynes was answering questions from Clare Fianna Fáil Senator Timmy Dooley at the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications last week.

Ms Hynes confirmed that she contacted Mr Varadkar after learning that she was not being reappointed to head the State company.

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In his book, “In Bed with the Blueshirts”, former Transport Minister Shane Ross recalled that shortly after he told Ms Hynes he was not reappointing her as chairwoman of the Shannon Group, Mr Varadkar called asking him to reconsider.

Ms Hynes confirmed that she spoke to the then Taoiseach, but said it
“just to explain my situation,” adding that she did not ask Mr Varadkar to do anything, nor did she regard the call as lobbying.

Ms Hynes was chairwoman of the company responsible for Shannon Airport, Shannon Heritage and the Shannon Free Zone until August 2020.

She told the Oireachtas committee she was unable to say if she filed a return to the Standards in Public Office Commission recording the call with Mr Varadkar, which would have been required had she been lobbying.

Ms Hynes pointed out that during her time with Shannon Group she made numerous returns to the commission, as her role required her to lobby to help “get things done for the airport”.

Senator Dooley said that in the period between 2013 and 2018, Ms Hynes had set a target of growing passenger numbers at Shannon Airport to 2.5 million from 1.4 million.

“The reality is that over that period of time passenger numbers grew by 300,000 to 1.7 million. That was on your watch,” he said.

Ms Hynes answered that she had no executive role in Shannon Group.