Launch of Blarney GAA Astro Turf Project. Last month I was delighted to launch the Blarney GAA Astro Turf Project, after having worked with the Club over the past year to secure €110,000 in Sports Capital Funding for the project. The club has a long and proud history, and it was great to be shown the original club certificate dating all the way back to 1884! The new astro turf pitch will bring the club facilities right up to date for the 21st century and will be a fantastic addition for the community. Many thanks again to Club Chairman Kevin Kelleher, to Martin Lynch and to all the members for the very warm welcome to launch this exciting project.
Young Fine Gael launch report on “Brexit”. The UK’s referendum on whether to remain a member of the European Union will take place later this month, on Thursday 23rd June, and is a hugely important decision for Ireland, as the UK’s nearest neighbour. I will travel to London this week to meet with members of the Irish community to share the Irish Government’s perspective on the referendum and to discuss the many reasons why it’s important to Ireland for the UK to remain. Last week I was delighted to launch a report by Young Fine Gael International, with Eileen Lynch, Secretary of the group and YFG members. The document looks at some of the possible effects for Ireland if the United Kingdom votes to leave the EU. The referendum is as much about the next generation as it about the current one, and this report brings a youth perspective into this important debate. Positive momentum on Cork to Boston flights with decision due soon There were very encouraging comments by the Chief Executive of the Irish Aviation Authority, Eamon Brennan,last week who said he believes the U.S. Department of Transportation will grant Norwegian Air International a foreign carrier permit within weeks. There is now positive momentum around Norwegian Air International’s application to the U.S. regulator for a permit. I think it was important that, last week in the Dáil, the Taoiseach clearly stated that he disagrees with candidate Hillary Clinton’s view on the Norwegian Air deal, saying he believes it has enormous potential to do for long haul flights what Ryanair did for short haul flights. I think the shift in tone reflects well on the hard work that has been done on this issue by a broad coalition of interested groups and representatives in Cork, Munster and nationally. For my own part, I’ve pushed the issue with U.S. representatives through diplomatic channels and through the E.U. side, and submitted my argument in favour in a submission to the U.S. authorities. Hopefully we will have good news on a new direct transatlantic connection soon, which would be a great boost for tourism in Cork.