I hate spin. Particularly, but not exclusively, spin about Shannon.The government has agreed new draft legislation which will remove restrictions on the IDA and Enterprise Ireland from operating in the Shannon Free Zone. The new legislation, which will be published by the end of the year, is part of a series of reforms announced by the government earlier this year which aim to create a new world-class aviation industry in Shannon.This talk of “restriction” is clearly aimed at creating the impression that there has been some discrimination against Shannon. It might be worth recalling some of the debate at the time when the Industrial Development Bill was going through the Oireachtas, to give just a little background to this “restriction”.Government Announces Masterplan For Shannon ~ The Clare Herald In order to deliver this it is necessary to remove the restriction contained in the Industrial Development Act 1986 on Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland carrying out enterprise development functions in the Shannon Free Zone (SFZ).Maybe it’s a good idea to extinguish Shannon Development. Maybe the Mid-West will do better with its industrial development needs clearly centralized in a Dublin-based national authority, with a branch office in the region, rather than by having its own regional authority managed within the region, crossing over with IDA and EI, as at present.Dáil Eireann - 04/Mar/1986 Industrial Development Bill, 1985: Second Stage (Resumed).
I would say to this Government or to any Government that any attempt to diminish SFADCo by reducing their role or mandate in any way will be resisted by every political organisation and representative in the mid-west region. There is no doubt, as those of us who are close to the scene are aware, that there are concerted efforts by tourist interests and others — and I am saying Fine Gael Deputies from Cork who seem, at somebody's behest to be mounting a campaign against the Shannon Development Company. This, to my mind, is scandalous because the Shannon Development Company are the only effective regional development authority who have received international acclaim and recognition in training people from the Third World on how to enter into areas of public administration, on how to run and develop regions in their own countries. They have been acknowledged by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development as a model of their kind. Their raison d'être is to generate greater traffic through Shannon Airport.
But let’s say that, if it is the case. Let’s have the policy debate around the issue in play, not over some spin about “restrictions”. In the past, let’s recall, the Shannon regime contained fairly heavy restriction. But not for Shannon.