Clare Fianna Fáil Senator Timmy Dooley is calling for Government investment in Shannon Heritage as it transfers to Clare County Council.
The Senator outlined that staff need certainty about their future and tour operators need certainty that the facilities are operational and up to a high standard.
Senator Dooley commented, “We need to see investment, particularly in Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, and money is needed to upgrade those facilities. Craggaunowen and Knappogue also need money to make them fit for purpose and operational to attract tourists to the Clare area, and the wider mid-west and west will benefit from that too.
“Government funding to keep the lights on and to pay staff will be needed, in particular to support the transfer from one entity to the other. Operational funding will also be needed. It is clear these facilities are not going to be able to wash their face in the short term, frankly, because while the tourism potential is there, it is going to take time to build and grow, and funding will have to be put in place to ensure that happens.”
Senator Dooley also said that there will be a necessity to invest significant capital funding in upgrading these facilities.
“I know there are different initiatives with Fáilte Ireland to support that but we need to bring them together. We need a timeline for action to deliver these tourism attraction facilities, which employ so many people – upwards of 140 at peak season – but also benefit the wider attractiveness of the west of Ireland from a tourism perspective,” the Senator added.
Meanwhile, Independent Clare T.D. Michael McNamara questioned the Taoiseach Micheál Martin in the Dáil on the proposed takeover by Clare County Council of Clare-based Shannon Heritage tourism assets, including Bunratty Castle & Folk Park, Craggaunowen Bronze Age Park and Knappogue Castle & Gardens.
Deputy McNamara asked the Taoiseach for clarity on whether capital funding from central government would be forthcoming.
In response, the Taoiseach said Clare County Council should “get on with it”.
Michael McNamara stated, “The future of key tourism sites in the Mid-West and those who rely on them for employment, either directly or indirectly, deserve more than the flippant attitude shown by the Taoiseach in the Dáil.”