Conor Burns says Derry ratepayers should not bear burden of airport alone

Conor Burns says Derry ratepayers should not be left to carry the burden of funding Eglinton airport alone, noting 40 per cent of its passengers are from Donegal.

By Kevin Mullan
Thursday, 12th May 2022, 1:09 pm

The Northern Ireland Office junior minister echoed recent calls by Sinn Féin when he was speaking at a briefing of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster.

Speaking in the Dáil in recent weeks Buncrana-based T.D. Pádraig MacLochlainn pointed out how City of Derry Airport services a population of half a million people and that 40 per cent of its passengers come from Donegal.

Others have regularly pointed out that the facility directly borders the Causeway Coast & Glens Borough Council area and services many passengers from that district as well as from Mid Ulster which is as close to the facility as Killeter and Aghyaran in the Derry City & Strabane District Council.

Sign up to our daily Derry Journal Today newsletter

Conor Burns addressing the NIAC committee.

Mr. Burns told the NIAC that he recently met with two Sinn Fein MPs to discuss the British Government's 'levelling-up' strategy fort peripheral areas of the United Kingdom.

Read More

Read More
‘Abandoning’ Derry council to fund airport ‘wrong’ says Pádraig Mac Lochlainn wh...

"I have been up and did a levelling-up economic visit with two Sinn Féin MPs. That is pretty unusual over recent years. Neil [O'Brien, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities] and I have done most of the Northern Ireland meetings jointly.

"I will not embarrass them by saying, but we welcome them all because Members of Parliament know their constituencies brilliantly. Colum [Eastwood, Foyle MP] in fairness, talked to me about Derry Airport. I was there last week," he said.

Mr. Burns, who is Irish and was educated at Our Lady of Lourdes 'Park Lodge' Primary School on the Antrim Road in Belfast, said funding for the Derry airport is something that should be looked at.

"Some 40% of the users of Derry Airport are from Donegal. They are from the Irish Republic, yet the entire burden for supporting Derry Airport falls on the council tax or rate payers of Derry and Strabane Council area.

"There are things that we can be creative in exploring. I am not saying we can do them, but we should talk quite openly about creative ways to leverage."