Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar today announced the membership of the group, which includes Professor Luuk van der Wielen, Director of the Bernal Institute at University of Limerick and Professor Emeritus Eamonn Murphy, who is Chair of Mid-West Regional Enterprise Plan, following approval by government.

The new Taskforce will assess the strategic strengths and comparative advantages of the Shannon Estuary and scope out potential economic opportunities for the area. The group will produce a report, specifying actions to create jobs and secure investment along the estuary and in its vicinity.

The Taskforce is expected to report by the end of November this year.

The members of the Taskforce are:

  • Barry O’Sullivan (Chairperson) – formerly of J&J and current IDA Board Member
  • Mary Considine – CEO Shannon Group
  • Siobhan Dolan Clancy – Managing Director – SDC Business Consulting Ltd
  • Seán Hegarty – ESB Generation and Trading
  • Seamus Hoyne – Dean of Flexible and Work Place Learning – Technological University of the Shannon: Midlands Midwest
  • Pat Keating – CEO Shannon Foynes Port Company
  • Professor Eamonn Murphy – University of Limerick & Chair of Mid-West Regional Enterprise Plan
  • Dr Brendan O‘Donnell – Vice President Research & Vice President Academic Affairs & Registrar – Munster Technological University
  • Dee Ryan – CEO of Limerick Chamber
  • Professor Luuk van der Wielen – Director Bernal Institute, University of Limerick

The Tánaiste said: “The Shannon Estuary has a proud history of leading industrial development; Ardnacrusha, Shannon Airport, Moneypoint, the Shannon Free Zone and the growth in industry we’ve seen in and around Limerick City as well as the development of UL and now the newly-established Technological University of the Shannon and Munster Technological University.

“This group is about building on that by looking to the future, and setting out how we can ensure long-term, sustainable jobs and investment opportunities along the estuary for the decades ahead.

“I am really happy with the membership of the taskforce. It is a really good mix of expertise from research, academia and industry. Thanks especially to Barry O’Sullivan, who has agreed to act as Chairperson. The group will be supported in its work by officials from various Government departments, state agencies and local authorities. I look forward to receiving a report with recommendations towards the end of this year.”

To fulfil the commitment in the Programme for Government, the Terms of Reference for the Shannon Estuary Economic Taskforce are to:

  • Assess the strategic strengths and comparative advantages of the Shannon Estuary from an investment and enterprise development perspective, in a national and international context;
  • Scope potential areas of opportunity for the Shannon Estuary and specify policy and investment requirements to exploit those areas of potential;
  • Assess the current connectivity of the region and make recommendations as to how this could be enhanced;
  • Specify the actions required from national and local government, as well as from other stakeholders, to exploit those areas of potential; and
  • Produce a Report and associated Action Plan with specific steps in areas of potential.

Professor Luuk van der Wielen said “the 1920s Shannon Scheme transformed Irish economy by tripling electrical energy availability, which was all renewable hydropower. A century later, the Taskforce should be equally daring, by developing a plan to use the enormous Atlantic wind potential to transform carbon emitting industries (construction and materials, transport and housing of data-people-goods, agro-food) within the Estuary, Ireland and Europe.”

The Taskforce will be supported in its work by a secretariat from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment alongside Paraic Rattigan (Programme Manager for Mid-West Regional Enterprise Plan) and Jonathan Hoare (Programme Manager for South-West Regional Enterprise Plan).