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Tánaiste announces members of the new Shannon Estuary Economic Taskforce

The Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar TD today announced the membership of the Shannon Estuary Economic Taskforce, following Government approval.

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 the actions which can be taken to create jobs and secure investment along the estuary and in its vicinity. It will report by the end of November this year.

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’m really happy with the membership of the taskforce.  It’s 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.”

The Taskforce and its Chairperson were appointed following an open call for Expressions of Interest and an associated objective assessment process based on the criteria set out to all candidates.

Notes for Editor

Shannon Estuary Economic Taskforce – Terms of Reference

The Programme for Government committed to supporting the Shannon Estuary and surrounding area through the establishment of a Taskforce to evaluate the potential of the area and determining how this potential can be realised. Specifically, the Programme for Government states:

“We will ensure that local development plans are developed to stimulate economic activity for those areas that were expecting economic development arising from new fossil-fuel infrastructure. As part of this, we will consider the potential of the Shannon Estuary in terms of regional economic development across transport and logistics, manufacturing, renewable energy and tourism, and develop a strategy to achieve this potential, with support from the Exchequer.”

Core task and functions

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

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

The Taskforce Report will be presented to the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment. It will subsequently be considered by Government.    

There will be a programme of engagement with the relevant local authorities as part of the Taskforce’s work.


The membership was selected following an assessment with reference to the criteria as set out in the Expressions of Interest process. The Taskforce will also be supported by senior officials from relevant Government Departments and Agencies.

Additional experts may be invited to attend meetings of the Taskforce from time to time, where they have a particular contribution to make in an area under discussion.

Membership of the Taskforce shall be on an unpaid basis. Members may have reasonable vouched expenses reimbursed if they incur transport relating to their attendance at Taskforce meetings.

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 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).