The government is reportedly considering diverting Dublin flights to Shannon Airport in a bid to ease its chronic congestion.
The Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan said last week it had been considered as an emergency measure: “One of the things we’ve been discussing in recent weeks is whether we can’t just turn the flights down toward Shannon.”
“You will have a lot of people coming into the country who will be going to Dublin, with that flight they have already booked and already arranged.”
He was speaking in the Dáil addressing the matter which was raised by the Independent TD for Limerick Richard O’Donoghue.
He said: “But I think we need to look the other way. Could we bring people down? We have an imbalanced country.
“It’s not just that all the flights are coming in, and out of Dublin.
“All the roll on, roll off trucks are coming in to Dublin. Half the housing is in the greater Dublin region, and we need better balanced redevelopment. We need particularly Cork, Galway, Waterford and Limerick as polar cities, opposite attractions. Shannon Airport has great potential.”
Sinn Féin meanwhile, accused Minister Ryan of having “slept at the wheel” over the Dublin airport crisis.
Pearse Doherty TD told Green Party leader: “You are not held to account.”
Mr Doherty told him the government had approved a plan to lay off 1,000 workers from the airport amid the pandemic, for which it should bear some responsibility.
Mr Doherty said the problem of overcrowding was evident in March, and that the government should have taken a pragmatic approach then: “As a minister can you explain to the public that your government has signed a redundancy package that is too deep?”
Mr Ryan said that one cannot make excuses for what happened last Sunday and it is unacceptable.
“But there was no passivity on the part of anyone,” he insisted, adding that he had met with the DAA on a dozen occasions since last year.
“Last week everyone was disappointed, and we will all accept responsibility – me included,” Mr Ryan said.