Happy to report that the meeting in Letterkenny last night was well attended with different sectors of GA represented. I went to this meeting with a very sceptical outlook, sceptical from the point of view that I believe that a leopard wont shed its spots and as a client who had to deal with the IAA over the past years on issues that could have been handled efficiently, with courtesy and professionalism... unfortunately that wasn't my experience with the IAA on all counts, and I am not alone in that regard.
John Steel & Company did a very polished presentation last night, addressed the many issues that are so apparent and took quite a heated question and answer session afterwards.
The upshot ?.....
Well I do now honestly believe that the IAA have realised the errors they have instigated towards GA in general and the errors in dealings with individuals. They openly admitted their mistakes in the past, and they do not want the future to be rendered likewise, they want to pro-actively engage with GA and move forward. They were humble and apologetic for the mistakes that has been made and realise that it will take time and effort on their part to build trust with the GA community, this will be the most difficult challenge the IAA will face and how they overcome it is a matter for discussion and I for one really don't have answers on that score. The fact that they are running these meetings, admitting mistakes, looking for input is at least a beacon of hope for the future. Some simple matters that can be simply resolved for the betterment of the GA community can be implemented immediately by the IAA, this should be perused by them as a matter of urgency and it would go some way to foster a closer working relationship and demonstrate that they are sincere in their endeavours.
So, where will it lead?... I really don't know, last night I arrived at the meeting full of contempt for the IAA, I treated them like "mushrooms", kept them in the dark and fed them full of s**t. Although an Irish citizen myself, a resident in Donegal, with my own airfield, I don't fly here and curtail all my dealings to the UK CAA and operate in UK airspace, I don't liaise with the IAA and keep away from them. This is all because of my experience and dealings I have had with them in the PAST, lets hope it remains in the past. The IAA's mentality of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut must go, in any case there has been a few nuts with thicker husks than they could crack in recent times !
Last nights meeting in Letterkenny has left me much more open minded about the IAA, the fact they listened, took on board what was said.... and they did really take on board many points, listened to some very tough criticism, asked for ideas from the floor and said sorry for the past tells me something good just may happen.
As only one person I know I don't count in the scheme of things with the IAA, however as a sceptic arriving at the meeting to someone who left the meeting more than willing to run with the IAA on this very pro-active initiative says something in what they propose. The road ahead they must walk will be difficult, building trust and mutual respect with each other will take time, but we all must take the first step. I for one will put the first toe forward and begin the journey with them because for once I don't doubt the sincerity of their actions. Time will be the judge on their promises, especially for Cpt Steel, if they don't deliver then the history between GA and the IAA will remain to be written in mistrust as it has been for ages and foster an even more difficult working relationship between "them & us".
May I take the opportunity to thank Cpt John Steel, Cpt John Murray, Declan Fitspatrick and Colm Hanivan for hosting the meeting, for being so upfront and honest about the shortcomings within the IAA and for offering an avenue to progress things in the future.