By Tim Ryan
The commitments that the Government has secured for Shannon and Knock airports in the sale of its Aer Lingus stake to IAG will have a very positive impact on Galway city, Connemara and the surrounding areas.
That’s according to local Fine Gael Deputy Brian Walsh who told the Dáil that the marketing expertise the IAG group across the globe – and Ireland would benefit greatly from that.
“Ireland will be promoted in new markets in which we have not had a presence heretofore,” he said. “It is a cause for great optimism for the future of the tourism industry.”
Speaking during the debate which approved the sale, Deputy Walsh said all along, there had been broad consensus for some time that, in principle at least, the sale of the company had the potential to be good for Ireland and for Aer Lingus.
However, the initial offer was unacceptable and there were legitimate and very considerable concerns relating to, for example, connectivity and job losses.
“This weighed very heavily on the debate,” he said.
“The offer has been strengthened considerably and I am pleased that all the concerns raised have been addressed in the most recent proposal. The Minister has used the time since the original bid well to secure a better deal for all concerned.
“The commitments secured on the Heathrow slots were vital, and the potential for route expansion to North America in particular is vast and could have substantial implications for economic growth and development.
“The deal protects 2.5 million additional passengers, more than 600 new jobs and four new North American routes. We are looking at new dawn for the company in a very competitive environment. It will be strengthened by the takeover and the sky is the limit for Aer Lingus.”
Deputy Walsh said this was happening at the right time for Aer Lingus, which, in its current state, faced a very uncertain future as a stand-alone operation.
It was happening at the right time for the State as the injection of capital and further job creation that will arise from the deal will fuel the momentum we have as the fastest-growing economy in Europe.
New President for Local Ireland
The new President of Local Ireland, the association representing local news publishers around the country, is Head of Irish Times Regionals Dan Linehan.
Mr Linehan takes over the presidency from Declan McGuire of the Connacht Tribune. His appointment was confirmed at the recent Annual General Meeting of Local Ireland at Bloomfield House Hotel near Mullingar, Westmeath.
Mr Linehan, who has served as Vice President of the organisation for the last two years, said: “The coming years are a very important time for local publishers with many important issues to be addressed, including the implementation of the Future of Media Commission recommendations, defamation reform, the role and support for local publishers in public service reporting and helping publishers develop commercial digital offerings.”
Speaking at the AGM, Mr McGuire acknowledged the work done by the Executive in the past two years under the direction of Executive Director, Bob Hughes, on several projects related to the publishing industry but most especially the successful conclusion of the long-running campaign for the abolition of VAT on newspapers.
He also wished Mr Linehan the very best in his new role as President of the association for the next two years.
Mr Hughes thanked Mr McGuire for his leadership and support during his term of office and said he looked forward to working with Mr Linehan on the key policy priorities for the association, including Government supports, Government advertising, fair remuneration for content from the tech platforms and the reform of the legislation for defamation.
Local Ireland members also elected Seán Mahon, Managing Director of the Southern Star, as Vice President for the next two years.
Employers’ group hears of key challenges facing businesses in the region
The shortage of affordable housing is the single biggest impediment in attracting and retaining workers in the West, according to business group Ibec.
At a ‘Regional Insights Series’ meeting in the Galmont Hotel in Galway last week, employers were told that capacity constraints and labour supply are the key challenges facing business growth in the region.
Ibec Head of Regional Policy Helen Leahy said: “There must be greater focus by government on enhancing quality of life issues such as housing and infrastructure which are driving labour shortages in the region.
“Ibec’s vision for the West is to realise its potential to become a globally competitive location. An inadequate supply of affordable housing is now the single largest impediment to attracting and retaining talented workers, without whom business investment and expansions are not possible.
“Labour shortages are a real concern for businesses in the region. People decide where to live and work based on quality of life and access to high quality services and amenities. Industry tends to follow talent, and in this regard, the region needs to have all the building blocks in place as the attraction and retention of world-class talent becomes increasingly competitive on a global level,” said Ms Leahy.
Amongst Ibec’s priorities for the West are:
- Addressing housing and infrastructure challenges
- Transitioning towards a new growth model with Net Zero energy powered by Atlantic offshore wind resources
- Adapting businesses to the new economic realities
- Enhancing capacity and skillsets to achieve sustainable development objectives
- Investment in people and skills
- Creating competitive advantage through digitalisation
- Innovation as a key driver of productivity growth
Survey finds one in five retailers in Galway want to go fully cashless
One in five Galway businesses want to go fully cashless, as the move towards card payments and tapping continues unabated post-Covid.
In all, 22% of Galway businesses would like to be fully cashless, according to a survey carried out by BOI Payment Acceptance (BOIPA), a provider of payment technology solutions, which asked Irish businesses about the current payment landscape as well as business confidence and concerns.
Over one-third (36%) of Galway businesses were unaware there is no contactless limit on mobile wallets – just below the national average – while 54% believe the increase in card over cash transactions has helped them run their business.
Six out of ten Galway businesses expect to grow this year despite the cost-of-living crisis and running costs dominating as key concerns; 62% believe their business will grow over the next twelve months despite global economic uncertainty.
Unsurprisingly cost-of-living increases and running costs were the main concerns the majority of businesses had.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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