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Pilots denied opportunity to raise welfare and safety concerns at Transport Committee, yet again - Imelda Munster TD

5 December, 2017 - by Imelda Munster TD

Sinn Féin’s Transport Spokesperson Imelda Munster TD has expressed serious concern that a planned appearance of the Irish Air Line Pilots' Association (IALPA) has been cancelled for the third time by the Committee.

The pilots had been scheduled to appear at the Committee to raise concerns about pilot safety and welfare. The meeting had to be rescheduled on two occasions, and the third planned meeting which was to take place on Wednesday morning, has today been cancelled.

Speaking after a private meeting of the Joint Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Munster said:

“The meeting has been cancelled on three occasions. The first time it was cancelled by the Chair because he felt he hadn’t enough time to read the information provided by the pilots.

"The second time it was cancelled because the Chair felt that the pilot’s opening statement was not provided in a timely fashion, though it was available to the Committee in advance of the meeting.

"This afternoon a private meeting of the Committee was held where legal advice was received by committee members.

"One member of the Committee made a proposal, which was seconded, that this “saga”, that is, the saga of the Committee hearing concerns about pilot safety, be put to bed and taken off the Committee’s agenda permanently. Deputy Munster rejected this proposal.

“I wanted to hear what the pilots had to say. It seems to me that different reasons are being found to silence the pilots. Last week I wrote to the Committee objecting to the proposal that a private briefing be held in Buswells Hotel by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), the regulator, in advance of the meeting that was to be held tomorrow.

I asked that the IAA brief the Committee during public session. I expressed concern about private meetings being held by the Committee on serious issues that should be heard in the public domain, and I asked that the Committee conduct its business in a public and transparent fashion.

“This issue is so important. Concerns around safety and pilot welfare should be paramount. The Committee received updated legal advice today and decided to cancel the meeting, despite the fact that the advice did not preclude the meeting from going ahead. I pushed a vote to indicate that I objected to the cancellation of the meeting.

"Unfortunately as the only member to vote against the cancellation, the vote carried and the meeting was cancelled, yet again. I will continue to work on this issue in an effort to get the pilots the hearing they deserve.”

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