Shannon Airport boosted with new daily seasonal Chicago route

  • United Airlines to operate the route
  • First flight to take off May 2023


Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Aviation and Tourism Cathal Crowe has welcomed the announcement today of a new service from Shannon Airport to Chicago O’Hare Airport.

The seasonal route will be operated by United Airlines and will take off daily between May and September next year.

This route was previously operated by United on a five-day-a-week basis from 2013 to 2017.

“This is hugely, hugely significant news for Shannon Airport today,” said Deputy Crowe.

“To have an airline like United come back to operate this route but also to increase it to seven days a week is a massive endorsement of our airport and our region.

“The new direct route will begin from May 26th next year and the flights will be at 9:30am each day until September 28th.

“Not only will this mean there will be people from across Ireland coming to Shannon to fly out directly to Chicago but it also brings huge inward tourism potential to this region, from the US.

“This, coupled with the US preclearance offered at Shannon, is invaluable.

“Today’s announcement adds to the routes already offered from Shannon to the States to New York, New Jersey and Boston.

“It’s very exciting to see so many positive announcements for Shannon over the past number of weeks – the new Chicago route adds to the recent good news with routes to Paris Orly and Beziers, as well as Newcastle in the UK.

“The future is bright for Shannon and positive news leads to further positive news so I’m excited to see what’s the come for our region’s airport.”


Almost €200,000 in CLÁR funding announced for Clare – Crowe

  • Four successful projects announced in latest tranche
  • Part of €2.75m nationwide announcement


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe has welcomed today’s announcement of €197,754 in funding for four successful projects in Clare under the CLÁR programme.

Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys has announced a total of €2.75 million to support 74 community projects nationwide in the latest tranche of funding under the scheme.

The successful projects in Clare are:

  • St Flannan’s NS Inagh – €50,000 (Inagh community car park – resurfacing car park, disabled parking and green school biodiversity)
  • Doonbeg Tidy Towns – €47,754 (Fair green community sensory garden)
  • Miltown Malbay NS – €50,000 (Multi-Use Games Area)
  • Cloonanaha NS – €50,000 (Develop community garden and outdoor recreation area)

Commenting on the announcement, Deputy Crowe said:

“I’m delighted to see these four projects be successful today in their bids for funding under the CLÁR programme.

“Not only do these grants benefit to schools and committees that they are allocated to, they also have a huge positive impact on these rural communities as a whole.

“Our sports clubs, schools and community groups are the lifeblood of out county and they’re where people of all ages and backgrounds come together as one community.

“The successful applicants in Clare in this round of funding have all looked at future-proofing their local facilities and making sure they are inclusive and widely available for use by all people living locally.

“There will be disappointed community groups around the county seeing today’s announcement but I would say to those groups that this isn’t the end of the road – we will see further announcements under the CLÁR programme coming up and there’s plenty of scope still for work to be done.

“I look forward to stopping to see works underway in Inagh, Doonbeg, Miltown Malbay and Cloonanaha on my travels around the county in the coming months.”


Threshold for social housing in Clare to increase from October 1st

  • Clare to move from Band 3 to Band 2
  • Move approved by Housing Minister


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe has welcomed a change in social housing thresholds in Clare, which will make housing more accessible to many more people.

From October 1st, Clare will move from Band 3 to Band 2 in terms of eligibility for housing, which will better reflect the housing costs across the county.

This means that the cut-off household will increase, meaning more people will be able to apply to Clare County Council for housing supports.

“We are in the middle of a housing crisis, coupled with a major cost of living crisis at present,” said Deputy Crowe.

“This has left a huge number of people struggling and desperately concerned about their housing prospects – living in fear of their rent being increased or their landlord evicting them, in order to sell their home.

“For many, they have heretofore not been eligible for social housing because their income has been too high for that; yet it is too low for a mortgage and they struggle to afford rising rents.

“This change from October 1st, which has been signed off by my colleague Minister Darragh O’Brien, means that a single person will now be eligible to apply for social housing on an income of up to €30,000, compared to €25,000 previously; while a family of two adults and two children will now be eligible on an income of €33,000 rather than the €27,500 cut-off.

“While this is by no means a magic fix, it certainly will mean that social housing will be an option and within reach for a great many who have been locked out of that system up until now.

“Nevertheless, there is still an issue with housing supply which remains one of my key focuses and one of the things I will continue to lobby my colleagues in Cabinet on.

“I hope that the move to make social housing more accessible in Clare is the first step in addressing the housing crisis currently facing our friends and neighbours in this county.

“As always, I stand ready to help anybody who needs assistance with their housing application.”

€7m Siemens investment a significant endorsement for Shannon

  • Firm to establish R&D operations in Shannon
  • Will see 25 jobs created


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe has welcomed the announcement by German firm Siemens that it is to create a software research and development group in Shannon, with an investment of €7 million.

The multimillion-euro investment will focus on High Performance Computing (HPC) in the Cloud for semiconductor design and will see 25 highly skilled jobs created over the next three years.

“I’m delighted to see a company of Siemens’ standing give such a strong endorsement of Shannon, as a place where it will continue to do business for many years to come,” said Deputy Crowe.

“Siemens is a long-standing employer in this region and for it to invest such a significant sum of money in a cutting-edge development like this is very good news for Shannon and the Midwest.

“This project is supported by the government and the IDA and is the first ‘Cloud EDA’ R&D group to be established by Siemens globally – placing Shannon in a very unique position and one that will, I hope, lure other firms looking to enter the Irish market to our doorstep.

“Siemens already employs 150 people in Shannon and this move will see 25 new highly skilled positions created over the next three years – a figure I hope will continually grow too.

“Shannon’s location right beside the airport and a stone’s throw from the University of Limerick and the Technological University of the Shannon make it an ideal spot for graduates to live and work, which will in time rejuvenate this area.

“I look forward to seeing what is to come and I will continue to engage with the IDA and my colleagues in government to ensure that more investment like this comes our way.”


Reversal of AIB’s decision to go cashless hugely welcomed

  • Move was ageist and anti-rural
  • Common sense has prevailed


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe has welcomed the announcement by AIB that it will no longer proceed with plans to turn 70 of its 170 branches nationwide cashless.

The plans would have seen Kilrush, Killaloe, Shannon and Ennistymon all effected.

“The rescinding of the move towards cashless branches by AIB is an announcement that will see a huge sigh of relief breathed across Clare today,” said Deputy Crowe.

“This should caution the financial sector that the while pace of change in the world is moving rapidly, for a lot of people, the move too cashless was too much, too soon.

“This would have been anti-business, anti-rural and ageist – points that I vociferously made to Colin Hunt, CEO of AIB, when I wrote to him.

“Yesterday, Councillor Cillian Murphy and I visited the AIB branch in Kilrush – one of those that would have been impacted – and we also met with a number of businesspeople around the West Clare area who were deeply concerned by this move.

“In particular, they feared having to drive long journeys with large amounts of cash to make deposits after weekend trading.

“I’m glad to see that common sense has prevailed and that AIB has rowed back on this decision.”


Shannon Airport now at mercy of Aer Lingus and IAG

  • Airline forced to axe services to Irish airports amid Heathrow cap
  • Lack of security for route going forward


Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Tourism and Aviation Cathal Crowe has labelled the lack of security around Shannon Airport’s Heathrow route as a political failure of the past.

It follows the move by Aer Lingus to cut one of its Heathrow to Shannon services per day this week, in order to meet the London airport’s cap on passenger numbers.

Over the weekend, the airline also cut flights to Dublin and to Cork on separate days to meet what it has called “the mandated flight cancellations”.

“Whilst Aer Lingus’ decision to axe one of its daily services from Shannon to Heathrow Airport is frustrating and disruptive to many intending passengers, this cancellation of flights potentially points to bigger problems for Shannon Airport and the Midwest region,” said Deputy Crowe.

“Over the past decade, the government has sold its entire stake in the Aer Lingus company and the airline has now been subsumed into IAG, which is largely based in Madrid and London.

“The landing slots which were once ringfenced for Aer Lingus on the Shannon-Heathrow service now belong to the IAG company and it’s now up to them on a commercial whim to decide where and how these slots should be used.

“In 2015, the government sold its last share of Aer Lingus and secured a guarantee from IAG that Shannon-Heathrow slots would remain protected until the autumn of 2022.

“We’re now only weeks out from this guarantee expiring and the government has no legal basis to secure a new guarantee.

“We’re now very much at the mercy of Aer Lingus and the IAG group overall.

“Commercially, the Shannon-Heathrow service has been very successful and prior to the onset of the Covid pandemic carried a large body of passengers.

“On this basis, I expect that the service will continue long into the future, but it will no longer enjoy guaranteed status.

“I think the people who work in the aviation sector, and indeed those in Co. Clare and the wider Midwest who have staunchly support Shannon Airport for years, can feel let down by politicians in the past who undersold the airport and ensured through their actions that its status would be diminished.

“While we all love to see Ryanair planes taking off to sun destinations, the core business of Shannon revolves around transatlantic services and the all-important link to the international hub that is Heathrow.

“The lack of security for this route is a political failure of the past and I don’t see a pathway for reinstating any guarantees at this time.

“Like many European airports, Shannon will now exist in a commercial bubble where its key routes are nailed down on a season-by-season basis.

“Notwithstanding the concerns I have regarding the Heathrow service, it must be acknowledged that Shannon is currently experiencing a recovery growth in the post-Covid period far greater than anyone would’ve expected.

“It’s now imperative that all political efforts are channelled towards securing an additional European hub, such as Frankfurt, to ensure that future reliance isn’t all concentrated on one hub airport, to the exclusion of others.”


Hydrogen fuel farm would position Shannon Airport as sustainable aviation leader

  • Submission made to Shannon Estuary Economic Taskforce on proposal
  • Potential already there with existing infrastructure


Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Aviation Cathal Crowe is calling for strong consideration to be given to his proposal to establish a hydrogen fuel farm within the Shannon Airport complex.

This would see the airport establish itself as a world leader in terms of sustainable aviation, at a time of significant change in the sector.

“Today, I have written to the Shannon Estuary Economic Taskforce, outlining my proposal to plan for a hydrogen fuel farm at Shannon Airport,” said Deputy Crowe.

“The Green Atlantic Windfarm planned off of the coast of Clare provides for a €50 million Synchronous Compensator, which will convert electricity generated via the wind turbine infrastructure to storable hydrogen fuel. All of this will happen on site at Moneypoint, just 65km west of Shannon Airport.

“Meanwhile, a fuel farm was developed at Shannon Airport in the 1973s and has the capacity to store 33,000 metric tonnes of aviation fuel.

“It would make perfect sense for the hydrogen generated at Moneypoint to be brought up the estuary to the large storage vats at Shannon Airport for usage by an array of aircraft companies and airliners.

“Right now, the large aircraft manufacturers of the world, including Boeing and Airbus, are at advanced stages of trialling hydrogen powered jet engines, which have the potential to be cheaper and more environmentally friendly.

“Whilst we’re still a number of years away from a widescale conversion of aircraft to this new fuel, most with knowledge of the sector believe it to be inevitable and the next decade will be defining in this regard.

“Shannon Airport, therefore, has a unique opportunity to position itself as a world centre of excellence insofar as sustainable aviation is concerned.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Shannon and I hope that the taskforce’s strategy will position Shannon ahead of other airports and regions of Europe, in terms of being able to harness the potential of hydrogen.

“When global aviation makes the initial conversion to hydrogen fuels, it is expected that long-distance capacity of the aircraft will, at first, be in some way reduced meaning longhaul flights such as transatlantic routes will need to touch down to refuel.

“As Europe’s most westerly airport, it makes so much sense that Shannon would be the stop-off point for aircraft going both eastbound and westbound.

“In the past, great people in the Midwest like the late Brendan O’Regan had visions for Shannon far beyond putting planes in the sky.

“As we emerge from the Covid pandemic and strive to put Shannon back on an upward trajectory of growth, it’s important that this kind of vision once again comes to the fore.

“I hope that my submission can be given consideration by the Shannon Estuary Economic Taskforce and I stand ready to help out in any way I can.”


Funding approved for new classrooms for St Joseph’s Secondary School, Spanish Point

  • Woodwork and music rooms approved for funding
  • Part of significant extension for school


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe has welcomed the allocation of funding from the Department of Education for new woodwork and music rooms at St Joseph’s Secondary School, Spanish Point.

The rooms are the latest to be approved for the school and, combined with previously approved new accommodation including a technical graphics room; science lab and prep area; toilet block and circulation and locker space, means a significantly extended school.

“This is a very welcome development for the school-going population of Spanish Point and the surrounding communities in West Clare,” said Deputy Crowe.

“I have been working closely with Principal Paul Reid on this matter and am delighted to see this has paid dividends.

“The approval of music and woodwork rooms forms part of a significant extension for the school and means that those who are coming up through their secondary schooling in the Spanish Point area can avail of much improved facilities to help them meet their educational needs.

“I look forward to visiting St Joseph’s to see the work progressing and in particular when the works are complete.”


Inclusion of Clare in pyrite scheme a step in the right direction

  • Clare and Limerick added to expanded scheme
  • More work needed to bring matter to conclusion


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe is welcoming the inclusion of Clare and Limerick in an expanded Defective Concrete Block Scheme by Cabinet today – but is warning that this is not the end of the road.

The government is today adding both counties to the initiative, at an estimated cost of €500 million.

At present, just counties Donegal and Mayo are covered which has been the source of extreme concern in Clare.

“I’m delighted that Clare and Limerick will today join other counties in being deemed eligible for redress for pyrite defective blocks,” said Deputy Crowe.

“Today’s decision by Cabinet to include our county is significant but by no means is it the end of the road.

“The campaign for redress for homeowners in Clare was instigated by Dr Martina Cleary, who founded the Clare Pyrite Action Group, and she and others who serve on that committee deserve huge credit for putting this issue high up on the political agenda – both in Clare and indeed nationally.

“The Cabinet sign-off indicates a follow through on a government commitment to provide redress for Clare homeowners but there are further stages ahead, including the preparation of legislation to give effect to redress.

“I know that many homeowners want to see the terms of redress improved and I think it’s important that every effort is made to consult with them to ensure that when the redress applications are live, that the best terms possible are offered.

“The homeowners who are impacted unwittingly built or bought homes that had a prevalence of pyrite within the blockwork and over the years, this has deteriorated in some instances to homes being near collapse.

“The impact of pyrite is very obvious on the structure of these homes, but it has also caused untold mental strain and hardship for the families concerned, as I’ve seen first-hand.

“In Clare it’s expected that over 600 houses may require redress and some of these will need minimal works, such as replacement of the outer leaf of blockwork, while others will need full demolition and rebuilding.

“Today’s announcement certainly builds momentum around redress but it’s now important that the terms and conditions of the redress application scheme and the particulars around how an individual can draw down funding is clarified and that we provide the best possible redress for homeowners.

“It’s also vital that the government continue to pursue the concrete block manufacturers that sold these defective blocks.

“A parallel legal process must get underway to ensure that these companies pay a significant penalty for the damage that their defective blocks have caused.”


€195,000 in funding for remote working initiatives in Clare

  • Funding will target five hubs around the county
  • Significant works to be carried out


Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe has welcomed the allocation of €144,923 in funding to Clare County Council through the Connected Hubs 2022 Call – along with an additional €50,000 to promote remote working.

The funding is part of a series of initiatives being unveiled today by the Department of Rural and Community Development, to make remote working more accessible and attractive for thousands of people.

“Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, how we work and how business operates has undergone a major shift,” said Deputy Crowe.

“More and more companies now are looking at hybrid or blended work or, in some cases, fully remote.

“It’s a very positive change in how we work, particularly for a county like Clare which is rural based, as it means people who heretofore were confined to the country’s cities for professional development can actually look to coming back to their rural towns and villages to live and work.

“Clare County Council has been very proactive in creating its network of DigiHubs, which I’ve used myself in Miltown Malbay and Feakle.

“This injection of close to €145,000 in funding is going to help to bolster the current offering.

“It will be used to provide new modular workspaces and privacy pods along with CCTV, firewall, ICT infrastructure and additional access points, making them even more accessible for people.

“It’s also very positive to see an additional €50,000 allocated to Clare County Council under the Town and Village Renewal Scheme – and every local authority in the country – to fund marketing campaigns and promote the remote working opportunities.

“Minister Humphreys is also launching the Connected Hubs Voucher Scheme – which will give remote workers free use of their local digital hub.

“At least 10,000 hot desk spaces will be provided under the Scheme, which is aimed at both existing hub users, as well as those accessing hub facilities for the first time.

“I look forward to seeing the developments that are to come in terms of remote working in Clare and look forward to making use of the facilities around the county as I travel and work.”