by Gordon Deegan
An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar said today that he “is absolutely certain” that it was the right Government decision to give Shannon airport its independence.
Speaking at a Shannon Chamber of Commerce event at Dromoland Castle this afternoon, Mr Varadkar said that passenger numbers at Shannon airport have increased from 1.4m to 1.7m per annum since the airport secured independence in January 2013.
In his role as Minister for Transport, Mr Varadkar steered the legislation through the Oireachtas giving Shannon its independence from the DAA and he said today that his work on Shannon has given him “a personal connection” to the Midwest region.
In his address, Mr Varadkar stated: “I am absolutely certain that it was the right decision to separate Shannon from the other airports and give its independence but I am also absolutely certain that we are only getting started and there is so much more that can be done to develop the area.”
Mr Varadkar said that the move to independence has rekindled the pioneering spirit at Shannon.
He said that the airport should be aiming to hit the 3.5m passengers per annum.
Mr Varadkar said that in 2012, there were 40 aviation related companies employing 1,600 in Shannon and this has grown today to 55 companies employing 2,500.
The Taoiseach also stated that the Government will remain firm in defending the 12.5% corporation tax rate.
He said: “It is not going to change. It is Government policy to leave it as it is. Our view is that tax is a national competence and national Governments should set national taxes."
He added: "Are we coming under pressure on it? You bet...We will continue to resist.”
Mr Varadkar also confirmed that the Government will be increasing the number of embassies around the world this year and will be soon have a diplomatic presence in Mumbai in India, New Zealand, Bogota, in Columbia, Santiago in Chile and a presence in Vancouver in Canada and Oman in Jordan.