Shannon Group: Motion (Resumed)
The following motion was moved by Senator Paul Gavan on Wednesday, 15 October 2020:
“That Seanad Éireann: acknowledges that:
- the Shannon Group supports over 46,000 jobs and contributes €1.1 billion in tax revenue to the exchequer;
- the importance of the Shannon Group to the Midwest region to maintain jobs and to continue economic development of the region, as well as to the national economy;
- the need to ensure the continued survival of international air travel from the Midwest region;
- that regional balanced economic development must be central to Government planning;
and calls on the Government to:
- commit fully to the survival and development of the Shannon Group and maintain its many international travel routes; and
- commit to the re-integration of Shannon Group under the remit of State control within the DAA in order to ensure collective leverage is attained in order to secure vital routes to London Heathrow and the East Coast of the United States of America"
Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after “That Seanad Éireann:” and substitute the following:
- Shannon Group, a commercial semi-state body, is a driver of economic growth in the Midwest;
- Shannon Group, which operates in both the aviation and tourism sectors, has been particularly severely impacted by Covid-19;
- the aviation and tourism sectors are major contributors to Ireland’s economy;
- successive Government policies have recognised and supported this contribution and pointed to Ireland’s reliance, in particular, on international connectivity to secure its competitive position internationally;
- Shannon Airport is an important player in delivering high quality international connectivity, particularly for the Midwest region;
- the Government is committed to balanced regional development; Project Ireland 2040 is a clear manifestation of this commitment and the Government recognises the valuable role that all our State and non-State regional airports play in this regard;
- the Programme for Government ‘Our Shared Future’ recognises the huge value of our aviation sector in supporting economic development, international connectivity and tourism via our airports;
- the Government is committed to enhancing connectivity by ensuring safe, sustainable and competitive air access responsive to the needs of business, tourism and consumers;
- prior to the onset of Covid-19, Shannon Group was on a growth trajectory with significant progress made in pursuit of its mandated objectives;
- since its formation in 2014, the Shannon Group has achieved a number of successes including:
- growing passenger numbers at Shannon Airport by 23 per cent (since separation);
- increasing commercial occupancy in the Shannon Free Zone from 40 to 90 per cent and adding almost 1 million square feet of space to the market;
- increasing Shannon Heritage visitor numbers to 963,000 in 2019 from 377,000 in 2013;
- delivery of an €18 million aircraft hangar, the first built in the State in almost 20 years; this investment has enabled the creation of in excess of 1,000 additional jobs in Shannon Free Zone;
- Shannon Group supports four in ten tourism jobs in Midwest;
- that in regard to the devastating impacts of Covid-19, in addition to supports announced in the Budget, the Government has put in place a comprehensive suite of cross-sectoral supports for companies of all sizes, including those in the aviation sector, which includes a wage subsidy scheme, grants, low-cost loans, commercial rates waiver (concluded on 27th September, 2020) and deferred tax liabilities; liquidity funding is also available through the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) Pandemic Stabilisation & Recovery Fund;
- the difficult decisions Shannon Group has had to take in recent months to reduce its costs and the impacts of these measures on the employees of the company which are deemed necessary to enable Shannon Group to secure the future of the airport so that it is well placed when the sector recovers from this crisis;
- the critical importance of national and regional connectivity both socially and economically;
the Government commits to:
- undertake an examination of the future viability and sustainability of Shannon Group, and is considering financial supports and any other measures that may be necessary and appropriate as part of a wider review of Shannon Group;
- ensure that Shannon Group is well positioned for the future particularly given the importance of Shannon Airport to the economy of the Midwest region and nationally;
- maintain Ireland’s core strategic connectivity as it is essential for us as an island, for export businesses and for foreign direct investment;
- create conditions to encourage the development of new air routes, particularly to new and emerging markets, when conditions allow;
- ensure a high level of competition among airlines operating in the Irish market;
- ensure the regulatory framework for aviation reflects best international practice; and
- consider further targeted financial supports to help reinstate connectivity, promote regional development and sustainability in the aviation sector; this will feed into the Government’s further plans to aid broader economic recovery at the appropriate time cognisant of prevailing public health advice."
(Senator Barry Ward)
We must now deal with the postponed division relating to the motion regarding the Shannon Group. On Wednesday, 15 October 2020, on the question that the amendment to the motion be agreed to, a division was claimed and that division must be taken now.
The Seanad divided: Tá, 30; Níl, 16.
- Ahearn, Garret.
- Burke, Paddy.
- Buttimer, Jerry.
- Byrne, Malcolm.
- Carrigy, Micheál.
- Casey, Pat.
- Cassells, Shane.
- Conway, Martin.
- Crowe, Ollie.
- Currie, Emer.
- Daly, Paul.
- Doherty, Regina.
- Dolan, Aisling.
- Dooley, Timmy.
- Fitzpatrick, Mary.
- Gallagher, Robbie.
- Garvey, Róisín.
- Hackett, Pippa.
- Kyne, Seán.
- Lombard, Tim.
- Martin, Vincent P.
- McDowell, Michael.
- McGahon, John.
- McGreehan, Erin.
- Murphy, Eugene.
- O'Loughlin, Fiona.
- O'Reilly, Pauline.
- Seery Kearney, Mary.
- Ward, Barry.
- Wilson, Diarmuid.
- Bacik, Ivana.
- Black, Frances.
- Boyhan, Victor.
- Boylan, Lynn.
- Craughwell, Gerard P.
- Gavan, Paul.
- Higgins, Alice-Mary.
- Hoey, Annie.
- Keogan, Sharon.
- McCallion, Elisha.
- Moynihan, Rebecca.
- Mullen, Rónán.
- Ruane, Lynn.
- Sherlock, Marie.
- Wall, Mark.
- Warfield, Fintan.
Tellers: Tá, Senators Robbie Gallagher and Seán Kyne; Níl, Senators Fintan Warfield and Paul Gavan.
Amendment declared carried.
Question, "That the motion, as amended, be agreed to", put and declared carried.