Increased Ryanair flights and addressing aviation tax key for Shannon

  • Ryanair has briefed Oireachtas members on future plans
  • New routes for Shannon must be considered

 

Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe has raised the importance of new routes from Shannon Airport, as well as aviation tax, with Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary.

Ryanair held a briefing at the Merrion Hotel in Dublin this morning, highlighting the contributions the airline has made to the Irish economy since 1985, as well as its commitment investment and growth of operations in Ireland.

Deputy Crowe has insisted that Shannon Airport form a key part of those plans.

“Today’s briefing was a key opportunity to raise the case for increased investment from Ryanair in Shannon Airport,” said Deputy Crowe.

“Already, we’ve seen confirmation that they will formally open their new hangar in Shannon in November, bringing a €10 million investment and 200 highly skilled jobs.

“Now, the focus must be on new routes and increasing their presence in Shannon, for the benefit of the entire Midwest region.

“I spoke with Mr O’Leary about the possibility of adding additional routes from Shannon Airport and also the possibility of basing a third aircraft there.

“Currently, Ryanair has two Boeing 737 aircraft based in Shannon and I am hoping we’ll have some good news on these fronts in 2023.

“I also hope that the Irish government can address aviation environmental taxes, in conjunction with other European governments

“At the moment, airlines like Ryanair are penalised for their short-haul flights, with passengers arriving at Amsterdam Schiphol each paying €20 – but transit flights and long-haul flights from the same airports are not subject to the same charge.

“The Ryanair model of flying is low-cost based and in order to see it continue successfully we need to ensure that the taxation regime also promotes people to fly in and out of Ireland with relative ease and at low cost.

“Shannon Airport is still in recovery mode, but expectations are high for 2023 and I hope that Ryanair, Aer Lingus and the other airlines that fly to and from Shannon remain fully committed and look at expanding their presence at Shannon.”

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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.”

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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.”

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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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€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.”

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New Shannon to Paris route a positive endorsement of Shannon Airport – Crowe

  • Vueling to travel route twice weekly from September
  • Brings to 27 the total routes at Shannon

 

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Tourism and Aviation Cathal Crowe has welcomed today’s announcement from Shannon Group that a new route will be established between Shannon Airport and Paris.

Vueling, a low-cost Spanish airline, will commence flying between Shannon and Paris-Orly on Mondays and Fridays from September.

“This is a very positive endorsement of Shannon Airport and what we have to offer here in the Midwest region of Ireland,” said Deputy Crowe.

“There is massive scope in Shannon to expand the routes on offer and this latest announcement brings to 27 the total number of routes to and from the airport.

“These services cover a range of destinations in Europe, the UK and North America.

“Paris-Orly is just 13km from the centre of Paris city and will open up huge potential both in terms of tourism and business for Shannon Airport customers.

“Securing a link to Paris has long been a goal of mine and for Shannon Group, as it opens Shannon up to a major European city and hub.

“Paris-Orly is 34km from Charles de Gaulle Airport, meaning it can operate as a transitional hub to onward travel where necessary.

“I very much welcome today’s news and also want to take this opportunity to welcome Vueling to Shannon and I look forward to more positive announcements to come.”

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Works to address noxious odours at Ballycannon Heights to proceed regardless of LNDR

  • 40-year-old infrastructure causing nauseous odours
  • Irish Water doubles down on 2022 timeline

Fianna Fáil TD for Clare Cathal Crowe is insisting that works to put in place a proper wastewater treatment plant for Ballycannon Heights in Meelick be separated from the ongoing Limerick Northern Distributor Road project.

Temporary infrastructure was put in place back in the 1980s and 40 years on, still functions as the main wastewater treatment for the estate – despite no longer fulfilling its function and leading to dangerous, nauseous odours seeping out in fine weather.

There have been concerns locally that this project would be delayed due to the issues impacting on the LNDR construction but Deputy Crowe has received assurances that this is not the case.

“I’m from this locality and I know first-hand, having many times stood out on the road with residents and being knocked out by the nauseating gases, just how serious this issue is,” said Deputy Crowe.

“This was designed as a temporary solution in the 1980s but has become a permanent fixture in the estate and absolutely is not fit for purpose, 40 years on.

“On health and safety grounds, it’s essential that this project is uncoupled from the LNDR and proceeds in the quickest possible time.

“My fear is that this summer will be a repeat of every other summer of recent years, where we have these vomit-inducing smells emitting from the wastewater treatment plant.

“I’m in constant contact with Irish Water on this as I do not want to see this slip between the cracks at this critical juncture.

“I’m pleased to say that I’ve been informed that at present, Land Acquisition is underway, and a Compulsory Purchase Order is due to be published next month.

“Assuming there are no delays in the CPO process Irish Water expect construction to commence before the end of 2022.

“I will be keeping on top of this to ensure that this year does not pass without the completion of this project and I’m confident that this is the beginning of the end of this nightmare for Ballycannon residents.”

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