Clare County Council has announced that it cannot proceed with the proposed takeover of the Clare assets of Shannon Heritage at this time without real and meaningful support from Government.
However, the Chief Executive of Clare County Council says the Local Authority remains open to further engagement on the future management and development of Shannon Heritage assets in County Clare.
The Local Authority, following engagement with Elected Members, is citing ongoing uncertainty around the proposed terms of the legal guarantees and funding in relation to the transfer of Bunratty Castle & Folk Park, Craggaunowen Bronze Age Park, Knappogue Castle & Walled Garden, and the Cliffs of Moher Experience retail unit from Shannon Airport Group to the Local Authority.
Clare County Council was requested by government to conduct a Due Diligence process into the transfer in 2021.
In July 2022, a final report, produced on behalf of Clare County Council by independent consultants in the fields of Finance, HR and Legal, was submitted to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage and the Department of Transport in which a funding package to support the upgrading and maintenance of the sites for three years was identified.
Legal negotiations have been ongoing with Shannon Airport Group while regular consultation with Shannon Heritage staff and Elected Members also has been a key part of the two-year process.
“In the comprehensive independent Due Diligence report submitted to government, Clare County Council detailed significant neglect of the sites, the urgent need to halt the deterioration of the assets and the investment required to achieve this.
The Local Authority also outlined its vision for overseeing the management, development, and promotion of the Shannon Heritage sites and their incorporation into a portfolio of signature visitor attractions and sites throughout Clare, including the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience, Loop Head Lighthouse, Vandeleur Walled Gardens, and Inis Cealtra Visitor Experience (currently under development).”
“Clare County Council has engaged constructively with all parties to the process approaching two years. Despite every effort made and the good faith demonstrated by the Council throughout the process and in the absence of any funding commitment from government and a resolution to outstanding significant elements of the draft legal agreement between the Local Authority and Shannon Airport Group, including the footprint of the site and indemnities at Bunratty Castle & Folk Park, the Local Authority is unable to proceed with the proposed takeover at this time. To do so would have a significant impact on services and commercial businesses in Clare.
“Clare County Council wishes to acknowledge the staff of Shannon Heritage for their cooperation throughout the process and for their ongoing commitment to achieving and delivering a tourism product that delivers significant social and economic benefits for County Clare and the wider Mid-West Region.
Bunratty, Craggaunowen and Knappogue are integral to the overall tourism product offering in Clare and Clare County Council will continue to support efforts to ensure their development into the future.”