FF councillors in emergency rallying call

FIANNA FÁIL councillors yesterday called an emergency meeting with all elected party members in the Shannon region in an effort to lobby support for Government intervention.

A meeting of Fianna Fáil TDs, senators and councillors in the mid-west region to include Limerick, north Tipperary, Kerry, Clare and Galway next Wednesday is expected to hear calls for urgent Government action.

Yesterday, Councillor Pat Daly, a spokesman for the 15 Clare county councillors who called the meeting, said the Taoiseach and the ministers for Transport, Enterprise and Employment and Arts, Sport and Tourism would be invited to attend.

“We are totally disgusted with the actions of Aer Lingus as it will have disastrous consequences for industry, tourism and employment. Councillors such as myself will be strongly lobbying for a reversal of this decision and calling for Government intervention,” he said.

Yesterday, the offices of senior FF TDs Willie O’Dea, John O’Donoghue and Tony Killeen were contacted about next week’s meeting.

The meeting in Oakwood Arms Hotel in Shannon will also be attended by senators, councillors and TDs outside the region who are concerned at the ensuing events.

Confirming his attendance, Junior Minister for the Environment and Energy Tony Killeen, said a lot of commentary to date had been “politically motivated”. He said the meeting would allow Fianna Fáil to address the issues which concerned them.

The Clare TD said no information about the removal of Aer Lingus services from Shannon to Heathrow was made available to anyone in Government before the weekend. He said every option would have to be looked at, including the possibility of pursuing other carriers to come into Shannon.

His comments, however, prompted demands by opposition parties for ministers to “come out of hiding” and answer questions.

Labour’s Jan O’Sullivan described claims by the Government that they were unaware of the Aer Lingus plan as “unbelievable”.

“The Taoiseach and Minister Dempsey now have to end their silence and tell us exactly what they knew and when they knew it. Even more importantly, they have to tell the people of this region exactly what steps they are going to take,” she said.

Querying whether the Government had known of Aer Lingus’s pullout in advance, Fine Gael’s Olivia Mitchell said the timing of the announcement had “all the hallmarks of a typical Fianna Fáil stroke, designed to sink without a trace on an August bank holiday weekend”.

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