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State must use stake in Aer Lingus to protect Irish interests - Ellis

26 January, 2015 - by Dessie Ellis TD

Sinn Féin Transport spokesperson Dessie Ellis TD has called on the government to refuse to sell the states stake in Aer Lingus, following the most recent offer made by IAG for the company. Deputy Ellis said that Aer Lingus was vital to Ireland's economic interests and Sinn Féin are opposed to the selling off of the states stakes in Aer Lingus now or in the future give the threat it would pose.

Deputy Ellis continued:

"Aer Lingus, despite the fact it is no longer a fully state owned company, is seen domestically and internationally as the national airline. It provides vital transcontinental links for our country, aiding Ireland in attracting vital tourism, trade and investment."

"At present, the Irish state through its stake in Aer Lingus has the potential to be an advocate not simply for profit making but for sustainable development of the company in the interest of its workers, its customers and the country as a whole. IAG would not have this interest at heart. They, like any private profit based firm, will seek to make the maximum amount of money from its share. We do not want to see the workers of Aer Lingus and the vital links the company provides to Ireland jeopardised by a drive for high profit in the short term."

"IAG is already a very large multinational conglomerate and would pose a threat as a monopoly if allowed to control another airline in western Europe."

"We have major concerns for the future of Aer Lingus's Heathrow slots if IAG were to control them. IAG are likely to want these slots for routes more lucrative to their business which would see less flights from Ireland to Heathrow in the long run. The UK is a vital trading partner and these links should not be left up to the whim of IAG.  There has been talk of a deal on these slots but this would only kick the can down the road. We oppose completely any move which might lead to the break up or asset stripping of Aer Lingus."

"A break up of Aer Lingus would also potentially jeopardise any resolution of outstanding pension issues in particular those of deferred members of the IASS."

"I will be raising all these issues with the Minister and make Sinn Féin's position clear to the government this week. I have also requested that a Transport Committee hearing on the future of Aer Lingus be held as soon as possible."

"The government cannot be allowed another quick sell off of an important state asset in order to fund a desperate attempt to stay in government over the next year."

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