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    Aer Lingus’ Shannon shift means end to repatriation

    By Noreen Bowden | August 10, 2007

    There has been substantial commentary on the issue of the Aer Lingus decision to end its London Heathrow route out of Shannon. While most of this commentary has focused on the decision’s effect on the industry around Shannon, a small amount of this commentary has focused on the move’s effect on emigrant travel. One RTE commentator told of a US-based emigrant’s anger at the move, and subsequent pledge to stop using the airline.

    There is another dimension, however, as pointed out by Fr Tom Ryan, as quoted in the Irish Times. Fr Ryan told the newspaper that the end of the service will mean that the bodies of Irish people who die in Europe and the UK will no longer be repatriated through Shannon. Families in the West will now need to travel to Dublin or Cork to receive the bodies.

    Fr Ryan said, “The dead don’t have a voice and this decision to end the Heathrow service will only add to the distress of families at a very vulnerable time where they will have to embark on long journeys to retrieve the bodies.” He adde that he hoped Aer Lingus would reverse its decision.

    A Limerick-based funeral director confirmed that the move would have a negative effect.

    “The service at Shannon is used greatly as Heathrow was the hub for all over the world for bodies being repatriated”, said Gerry Griffin. “The emotional impact will be huge for families worried about not being able to bring their loved ones home through Shannon and will only add to the trauma.”

    Read the full report in the Irish Times.

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