Sinn Féin TD for Clare Violet-Anne Wynne has called on Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts Catherine Martin to intervene to secure the future of Shannon Heritage and its staff.
Teachta Wynne also called on Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan to live up to his promises and conclude his review of the Shannon Group structures.
Speaking today, Teachta Wynne said:
“Shannon Heritage and its workers have been left in limbo as a result of Covid-19 restrictions, and now may not reopen until April.
“After a year of uncertainty, this is another devastating blow for workers.
“The government needs to bring some certainty to the future of Shannon Heritage. As it stands, workers do not know whether Shannon Heritage sites such as Bunratty Castle, King John’s Castle, Craggaunowen, Dungaire Castle and Knappogue Castle will reopen.
“The importance of these sites to the prosperity of local businesses and employment cannot be underestimated. The region depends on them.
“In a further blow, Shannon Heritage is to receive €2m less funding than what had been sought and announced to keep Bunratty Castle and Folk Park and King John’s Castle open.
“In August, the government announced funding of €2.6 million to prevent the closures of both Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, and King John’s Castle.
“That lifeline has since been decimated with only €550,000 now forthcoming. Workers were left stunned and let down by this broken promise and now have real and genuine fears for their future. This reduction in promised funding is unacceptable, and must be reversed.
“In July, Minister Ryan committed to undertaking a review into the Shannon Group structures. It is passed time that Minister Ryan concluded this review without any further delay.
“Shannon Group have confirmed that they are not in a position to seek further funding for the sites and that has raised serious concerns for the staff and workers. They are understandably questioning what has changed.
“The staff have rightly pointed out that they are suffering and that it is difficult to keep positive.
“I am now concerned about their well-being and mental health as there has been much confusion over what is happening, how much funding is being sought, and how much has been received.
“There is too much uncertainty at play here, and not all of it is due to Covid-19.
“Shannon Heritage can have a bright future when we navigate our way through this pandemic.
“But, right now, it needs a leg-up from government to insulate itself and its workers from the effects of closure and loss of income brought about by the pandemic.”