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Labour Party position on Aer Lingus 'bizarre' - Gallagher

12 September, 2005

Sinn Féin councillor on Fingal County Council Felix Gallagher has confessed his surprise and disappointment at what he described as the 'bizarre' decision by a number of Labour councillors to vote against a Sinn Féin motion calling for the retention of Aer Lingus in the hands of the Irish people. The motion was passed by 13 votes to 8 with two abstentions at a meeting of Fingal Council that took place earlier this afternoon. (Monday)

The Mulhuddart councillor said: "The motion I put to the Council was supported by Labour councillors in Dublin City and South Dublin County Councils. Labour councillors who put, or attempted to put similar motions, on the clár had so little problem with it that they cut and paste whole sections of it into their own motions.

"Yet when it came to the vote, a number of Labour councillors made the bizarre decision to vote against their own party policy as well as the interests of the Irish people, and Aer Lingus workers and customers, by opposing our motion. It is absolutely inexplicable."

While puzzled by the Labour Group‚s position, Cllr Gallagher was nonetheless delighted that the motion passed.

"The motion received the support of Fianna Fáil, Green, Socialist and Independent councillors, which was enough to overcome the opposition of the Fine Gael - Labour alliance. I am delighted that this motion, expressing our support for public ownership of Aer Lingus was passed, but disappointed that Labour could not see their way to backing it and instead chose to support Fine Gael policy on the issue." ENDS

Text of motion:

That Fingal County Council

(i) recognising the enormous contribution to the economy of Dublin made by the national airline, Aer Lingus, since its establishment;
(ii) commending the workforce in Aer Lingus for building up the company over many years as one of the foremost airlines globally, and for their major contribution in returning the company to record profitability since 2001;
(iii) 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;
(iv) affirming the need to retain the national airline in public ownership as a vital strategic element of Ireland‚s infrastructure;

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:

(a) retain the national airline, Aer Lingus, in State ownership;
(b) 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; and
(c) safeguard the employment, pay and conditions of all Aer Lingus workers."

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