AN east Belfast family has thrown down the gauntlet to Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary, inviting him to swap homes for a month.
The Allely family have lived in the heart of east Belfast for the past 11 years — directly under one of the flight paths operating from George Best Belfast City Airport.
And the family — Dad Stuart and sons Ryan (16), Mark (14) and Bradley (11) — made the unusual request after Mr O’Leary’s comments last week regarding the lack of noise for residents.
Speaking to The CT, Mr Allely said: “I would like to see how Mr O’Leary would put up with the daily disturbance from airplane noise, which starts at 6.30am and goes on until 10pm.”
The controversial chief angered local residents by claiming there was no noise disruption from his company, while condemning the public inquiry.
The local airport is proposing an extension to its runway at the north east end by 590m, while retracting 120m from the south west.
The plans have continually met with strong opposition from local residents, who have said they fear a greater number of larger planes using the runway if the plans get the go-ahead — a claim always refuted by the airport.
But last week Mr O’Leary insisted that there is no noise issue for residents in east Belfast as Ryanair do not run flights throughout the night.
And the airline chief — who has previously dismissed the residents living near the local airport as “mewling and puking” — said he did not believe there was any local opposition. He added: “I think the public inquiry will expose the absence of any real public opposition to growth at Belfast City.”
But Mr Allely said his family would happily open up their home to Mr O’Leary — and spend a month in his Dublin home — to see if his opinion on the noise changed.
He added: “I work shifts meaning I often have to sleep during the day, a task made difficult by the noise of the planes flying overhead.”
He added: “Sometimes we can’t even enjoy time in the garden as the peace is broken by the planes. It really makes me wonder what is happening to Victoria Park.”
Supporting the Allely family, Liz Fawcett, spokesperson for campaign group Belfast City Airport Watch, said she was “not surprised” Mr O’Leary was against the public inquiry decision.
“It is vital that local residents have the opportunity to put their views across,” she said.
“If it went ahead it would have a devastating impact on the lives of ordinary people.”
Mr O’Leary also turned on the Assembly, claiming he was disappointed that Northern Ireland had had its chance to govern itself, but had gone for a ‘fudge’ and decided not to make a decision on the runway extension.
In response First Minister Peter Robinson, East Belfast MLA, branded Mr O’Leary a “bully”.