Statement by the Bishops of the Mid West Region at the rally in support of the return of the Aer Lingus Heathrow slots to Shannon airport

19 Oct 2007


19th October 2007

Joint Statement issued by the Bishops of the Mid West Region in support of the “Save Our Slots” rally in Limerick – Friday 19 October 2007

On 11 August last we issued a statement in relation to the closure of services by Aer Lingus on the Shannon – Heathrow route. Despite the efforts and initiatives of local organisations, politicians and business interests of the region to address this serious matter in the past two months the region is still facing the serious possibility of the closure of a major arterial air-route which provided the west of Ireland with an incoming and outgoing link with a major European hub.

We again reiterate the following points from that statement for consideration

  • The ultimate purpose of the economy and of economic activity is not just to create profit; it is to make life more human for people. There is no area of life, including the economy in which social responsibility may be ignored. Nor do we accept that shareholders should be presumed to have no interest other than the generation of profit at whatever cost to their fellow human beings. That is especially true when the shareholder in the company is the Government, which exists to foster the common good of its citizens.
  • We cannot accept that managers and boards of companies may regard considerations such as the well being of their staff, their obligations to their customers and their impact on the community and the wider world as matters of little relevance in serious decision making
  • For many years public policy has been concerned about unbalanced development in Ireland. The over-concentration of population and economic activity in the Greater Dublin area is a huge problem not only for the rest of the country but for Dublin itself.

The following serious questions need to be addressed:

  • Why has the Government deemed it necessary in recent weeks to protect the Aer Lingus slots at Heathrow for Cork and Dublin and not take any decisive action with the company in relation to the Shannon slots?
  • Why is it thought necessary to remove all Heathrow flights from Shannon and the Western sea-board of Ireland while making no adjustments elsewhere?
  • How can the lack of serious decisive Government action in relation to the Shannon – Heathrow slots over the past two months give confidence to the people of the nation that there is a genuine political will to address the real imbalance in our country where an ever growing proportion of investment and development will be sucked into the Dublin-Belfast area to the detriment of the island as a whole?

We would again urge the Government, the other shareholders and the Board of Aer Lingus to take the necessary steps to reverse this very damaging decision to abandon the Shannon-Heathrow flights. While making this appeal we also recognise that the future development of the region depends largely on our own initiatives. Help from outside agencies is never a substitute for local endeavour. Can we respond to that challenge?

+ Michael Mayes, Church of Ireland Bishop of Limerick, Killaloe and Ardfert
+ Donal Murray, Catholic Bishop of Limerick
+ Willie Walsh, Catholic Bishop of Killaloe.

Further information:
Martin Long Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Kathy Tynan Communications Officer (086 817 5674)