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Sinn Féin provides time for Dáil to debate privatisation of Aer Lingus

23 May, 2005

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport, Seán Crowe TD, has put a motion before the Dáil on behalf of the five Sinn Féin TDs, to be discussed during the party's Private Members Business time on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week that challenges the Government's declared intention to sell off a majority stake in Aer Lingus. Deputy Crowe said, "It will be the first opportunity, following the Government‚s refusal to allow time, that the Dáil will get to debate this fundamental issue of national importance."

The Dublin South West TD went on to say that "While it may be true to say that this issue has been on the cards for some time it is also true to say that this Government has tried to sneak this proposal through while all attention was focused on the issue of the 2nd terminal at Dublin Airport.

"It is a scandalous and underhand way to do business, especially considering the massive implications it has not only for the workforce of the airline and their families but also for the wider population. As an island economy, heavily dependent on exports as well as tourism, the retention of a state airline, especially a profitable one, is not only crucially important but also entirely logical. It deserves and full and open debate.

"There has been no rational argument put forward for the privatisation of Aer Lingus other than to satisfy the insatiable demands of the privatisation lobby within both Government parties and their financiers in the private sector.

"Sinn Féin will use the two day debate to vigorously challenge the Government's position and to set out the need to retain the state airline in public ownership as a vital strategic element of Ireland's infrastructure."ENDS

See motion attached

Sinn Féin Private Member Business motion on Aer Lingus Tuesday and Wednesday, 25th and 26th of May 2005

That the Dáil,

Recognising the enormous contribution to the Irish economy made by the national airline, Aer Lingus, since its establishment;

Commending the workforce in Aer Lingus for building up the company over many years as one of the foremost airlines globally, and for thei major contribution in returning the company to record profitability since 2001;

Noting that State funds, through the National Pensions Reserve Fund, are currently being invested in aviation companies throughout the world, while the Government refuses to invest State funds in Aer Lingus;

Affirming the need to retain the national airline in public ownership as a vital strategic element of Ireland‚s infrastructure;

Asserting the responsibility of the Oireachtas to serve the public interest, including the convenience and safety of the travelling public and the livelihoods of workers in the national airline;

Deplores the decision of the Government to sell the majority stake in Aer Lingus held by the State on behalf of the Irish people, thus leaving the company and the workforce open to exploitation by private commercial interests who will profit from the decades of investment by the Irish taxpayer in building up Aer Lingus and from the sacrifices of the workforce who saved the company in recent years;

Calls on the Government to:

  • Retain the national airline, Aer Lingus, in State ownership;
  • Invest in Aer Lingus as required and on the basis of a business plan to secure the future of the airline, given that there is no impediment under EU competition rules to such investment;
  • Safeguard the employment, pay and conditions of all Aer Lingus workers;
  • Develop Dublin, Cork and Shannon Airports and the regional airports as part of an integrated all-Ireland transport policy, and in doing so fully comply with the agreement reached between the Taoiseach and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions in the context of the 2004 pay talks so as to ensure that pay and conditions won by workers at Dublin Airport are fully applicable to workers in the new terminal or terminals there.

- Seán Crowe, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Martin Ferris, Arthur Morgan, Aengus Ó Snodaigh.

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