University Of Limerick Will Suffer If Shannon to Heathrow Service Is Not Retained Claims Limerick Co

From: Dunphy Public Relations
Published: Fri Aug 10 2007

Members of Limerick County Council have unanimously agreed to support the call for an extraordinary general meeting of Aer Lingus aimed at retaining services from Shannon Airport to Heathrow.

During a briefing session of all Members this evening, the Local Authority also warned that the education sector, including the University of Limerick, would suffer should direct access to an international hub be lost.

Speaking following the briefing session at County Hall, Cllr. Kevin Sheehan, Chairperson of Limerick County Council stated, "The Members of Limerick County Council fully support calls on shareholders at Aer Lingus, including Ryanair and the Government, to immediately ensure that the service is retained in the interest of balanced regional development and the future of thousands of jobs. The removal of this vital link is contrary to aims of the National Spatial Strategy and regional policies, which aim to achieve a better, balance of social, economic and physical development across Ireland and create a strong competitive economy in the Mid-West Region."

Commenting on the impact of Aer Lingus's decision on the education sector, Cllr. Sheehan explained, "The local education sector and, in particular, the University of Limerick - which not only provides highly educated graduates but also supports research and development for many multi-national companies - will suffer if the service is not retained."

"Achievements to date in providing a highly skilled workforce through the presence of the University of Limerick, which adds value to the strong multi-national sector, will be greatly undermined by cutting off direct access to the main transport hub in Western Europe", he added.

Cllr. Sheehan continued, "Given appropriate support, the county's young and well-educated labour force has enabled the county to exploit opportunities in a number of key growth sectors such as Research and Development and Business Services. However, without a link to Heathrow as a major international hub, these sectors will find it difficult to prosper and attract further investment."

Cllr. Sheehan, who yesterday said that up to 10,000 jobs in 28 multinational companies were at risk as a result of the Aer Lingus move, said that the position of the Midwest Region on the Atlantic periphery of Europe places transport and access at the top of the development agenda.

"Shannon Airport, at the heart of the region, is a central feature of the area’s transport infrastructure. A thriving airport is a critical constituent of the economic potential of Western Ireland. Transport costs figure prominently in the profile of all economic activities and the ability of the region to compete internationally is critically influenced by transport provision. Unfortunately, the decision of Aer Lingus to discontinue the Shannon/Heathrow route threatens the economic potential of Western Ireland", explained Councillor Sheahan.

He continued, "The need to sustain and develop Shannon Airport's passenger and cargo transport facilities is essential because of the airport's strategic role in, and contribution to, the wider regional economy. Enhancing the trade opportunities for Limerick-based businesses in the Mid-West and businesses along the Western Corridor will now be an unattainable goal unless the recent Aer Lingus announcement is reversed."

"By providing a positive, open 'can do' approach, Limerick County Council, in partnership with other agencies, has encouraged and enabled indigenous and overseas companies to locate in Limerick. It is important that these agencies and Limerick County Council are in a position to continue to aggressively promote and develop our county and region to capitalise on new innovative investment projects for our growing, talented and highly educated population", added Cllr. Sheehan

He said that the Aer Lingus decision to discontinue the Shannon/Heathrow service would now result in County Limerick becoming a less competitive and attractive location for existing and potential investors and would also have a detrimental impact on tourism in the region.

He commented, "There has been substantial investment in tourism projects in the county which depend on access to overseas markets and good connectivity."

Meanwhile, Councillor Sheehan indicated that the axing of the Shannon-Heathrow service would seriously undermine an investment of EUR800M in infrastructural project in the Midwest.

"In the field of Transport and Infrastructure, Limerick County Council continues to work on a number of major infrastructural projects. In 2006, the contract for Phase 11 of the Limerick Southern Ring Road was signed and the scheme is scheduled for completion in 2010. In November 2006, the Council awarded the contract to design and build the N7 Nenagh to Limerick High Quality Dual Carriageway. Construction work on the new Tunnel has also commenced. These projects, with an investment value of EUR800 million, will improve connectivity in the region and also enhance infrastructural access options for an expanded Shannon Airport", stated the Limerick County Council Chairperson.

He said that by jointly working with Government Agencies, other Local Authorities and Private Sector Partners, Limerick County Council had strived to ensure future infrastructural projects were delivered with more certainty, timeliness and within agreed budgets.

"Is this joined up action now in vain if a vital link in our connectivity with a major international hub is broken?" asked Cllr. Sheehan.

"Shannon Airport remains one of the most significant economic assets in the Mid-West and an enhanced managed development of this asset would provide considerable economic opportunities for the county and ensure we continue to support the airport as the Mid-West Region's most competitive advantage. The Limerick/Shannon designation as a Gateway in the National Development Plan and also its proximity to Shannon Airport increases the development opportunities for this county and the wider region which may now be hindered by the recent Aer Lingus announcement", concluded the Chairperson.


Note to Editors:
- Cllr. Kevin Sheahan, Chairperson of Limerick County Council (087-2926333)
- For further details please contact Mark Dunphy of Dunphy Public Relations on 086-8534900 or

Mark Dunphy
Dunphy Public Relations
County Clare
00353-868534900 (Mobile)
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Company: Dunphy Public Relations
Contact Name: Mark Dunphy
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