The Mons. James Horan monument at Ireland West Airport Knock. Photo: Alison Laredo

TD seeking ministerial support for new opportunities at Mayo airport

A Mayo TD is seeking the support of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Simon Coveney in developing additional opportunities at Ireland West Airport Knock.

Deputy Alan Dillon explained: "I have in mind developing an Air Corps presence for training purposes or utilising the airport to support the work of Irish Aid being undertaken overseas.

"If we are serious about increasing activity at regional airports in the wake of the pandemic, we should identify departments with the potential to increase their operations at Knock and counter the dominance of Dublin Airport in the years before the pandemic.

"Utilising the regional airports through simple steps such as Irish Aid logistical support and packages being flown overseas from Knock would make a practical difference.

"There should also be greater use by the Air Corps of airports such as Knock for training missions.

"It would certainly be a strong show of support for our regions.

In response, the minister stated: "On those two suggestions, there is a strong historical link between the Air Corps and Knock in terms of using the airport's facilities for refuelling and conducting operations in the west of Ireland.

"When the Air Corps was central to the search and rescue, SAR, operations off the west coast, Knock was used as a strategic location.

"However, since the Air Corps withdrew from SAR operations in 2004 that activity has effectively ceased.

"Casement Aerodrome in Baldonnel remains the main logistical airport for the Air Corps now.

"On the location and prepositioning of essential humanitarian supplies, Ireland does this in different parts of the world.

"Currently, we have three stockpiles of emergency supplies. One is in Ghana, which I visited seven or eight years ago, one is in Dubai and one is in Panama.

"They have to be strategically located close to where we expect that emergency crisis situations are likely to unfold.

"I will talk to Deputy Dillon about other ways in which we might be able to help with what he is trying to achieve."