Waterford Airport funding defended despite backlash
A number of Waterford representatives have come out to bat for Waterford Airport after some media backlash in recent days.
Minister for Transport Shane Ross announced the €5 million funding for the long-awaited runway extension as the airport earlier this week. The funding will facilitate the lengthening and widening of the runway to make Waterford available to more commercial flights, including the Boeing 737.
An Irish Independent article on Friday pointed at the fact that Shane Ross had allegedly acted against the advice of spending officials. It stated there hadn't been a commercial flight at the airport in three years.
The article highlighted that the airport is in the constituency of Ross's Independent Alliance colleague John Halligan.
Halligan said, "If people want to say it’s parish-pump politics, I don’t care. It’s a big hit for the south-east.."
Another Waterford TD, Mary Butler went on Newstalk radio on Friday morning to explain the significance of the funding for Waterford, opening up the city and the region to further economic development.
Similarly, David Cullinane, Sinn Féin TD for Waterford, has told Waterford Live he is calling on the Minister for Transport, Shane Ross, to expedite the work to extend the runway at Waterford Airport, saying that it is an issue not just for the city and county but for the entire south-east region as well.
Deputy Cullinane said: "Notwithstanding the caveats placed upon it by Cabinet, the government’s commitment to the future development of Waterford Airport is to be welcomed."
"I note that this is through matching funds and not a grant, but the important thing is we have an opportunity here to secure a key capital project for the region and it must be grasped with both hands," he added.
"The local authorities of the south-east, as well as certain business interests, have agreed to participate on the basis that the Minister will release €5m for the project."
"The reason why there have not been any flights from Waterford Airport in three years is because it is well-nigh impossible to attract carriers to use the Airport in its present condition."
"This is why we need the investment. It is in order to extend the runway and by doing so bring much-needed jobs and infrastructure to Waterford and the south-east."
"This has to be a priority for the Minister and government. We cannot continue to see the south-east downgraded by officials in Dublin with little or no idea of the needs of the region."
"Both local business and regional authorities have shown their commitment to the Airport, we need the Minister to act quickly and follow up his announcement as a matter of urgency."
"Despite all the caveats, we need this to happen. I will support this initiative in every way I can."