New Shannon Group Chairman to lead post-Covid recovery

Conal Henry, Chairman Designate of the Shannon Group

TRANSPORT Minister Eamon Ryan has confirmed his intention to appoint Conal Henry to the position of Chairperson of Shannon Group in succession to Pádraig Ó Céidigh who resigned from the role last week.

Mr Henry is expected to be formally appointed following his appearance before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications which Minister Ryan says he hopes can be arranged at the earliest opportunity.

The 53-year-old Belfast-raised businessman is former chief executive of Enet, the Limerick-based telecommunications service provider, from 2006 to 2018 and has also served on the Board of Shannon Foynes Port Company.

He was also Ryanair Commercial Director at the height of the airline’s expansion and is currently Chairman of Fibrus Networks, the Northern Ireland broadband provider which he co-founded in 2018

Speaking on Tuesday, Minister Ryan said that given the important role of Shannon Group to the economy of the Mid West region and nationally, I am pleased that Conal Henry is willing to accept the position of Chairperson of Shannon Group.

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“Conal has 15 years’ experience at board level in both executive and non-executive positions and his career spans the aviation, telecoms, retail and banking sectors.  I am confident that he will play a key role in leading Shannon Group in its continued recovery,” Minister Ryan added.

Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton said that Shannon Airport was critically important to the economy, both directly and indirectly, particularly for the Mid-West region.

“It is a key enabler of tourism and commerce and sustains our significant levels of foreign direct investment. I look forward to working closely with Conal in his new role and am confident of his ability to support Shannon Group as it emerges from the Covid crisis.”

 Limerick Fianna Fáil TD and Minister of State Niall Collins said he welcomed the move by the Government to fill the vacancy so quickly.

“Shannon Airport is a key economic driver of our local economy and as we emerge from Covid19, we must ensure that every advantage is given to the Airport. I wish Conal Henry every success in his new role.”

Oireachtas Transport and Communications Committee Chairman and Limerick Fine Gael TD Kieran O’Donnell also welcomed Mr Henry’s appointment.

 “Mr Henry has a proven track record in business and in aviation, which has to be the key focus for the Shannon Group. He is very familiar with the region, having worked here over many years,” Deputy O’Donnell added.

“He will bring his vast entrepreneurial experience and practical in-depth knowledge of aviation in what continues to be a very challenging time for Shannon Airport.

“I look forward to Mr. Henry  appearing before the Oireachtas committee to outline his strategic plans for the Shannon Group and more specifically Shannon Airport”.

Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey, who is Chairman of the Shannon Airport Oireachtas Group, described Mr Henry’s appointment as a significant development in the region’s recovery from the Covid pandemic.

“He will be taking up the position at an important juncture for the Shannon Group in term of rebuilding passenger traffic, routes and destinations in a post pandemic world. He will also be responsible fo  building on the transformational work in the Shannon Free Zone by securing further investments and overseeing the transfer of Shannon Heritage sites.

“However, I believe it’s timely that a full review of the Shannon Group structures is undertaken now given the loss of two chief executives and two Chairpersons in such a short time.

“This review should take no longer than three months and be undertaken by a professional organisation who are at arms length from the Group. Such a report should be presented to the Minister and Department and the recommendations acted upon in a speedy manner.

“We need to understand why the Shannon Group has lost such good people and learn from these set-backs in the interest of the Airport and the Regions it serves,” Deputy Carey added.