Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Cullens Aer Lingus sale comments "completely undermines" promised engagement with Unions

28 March, 2006

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Transport, Seán Crowe TD, slated the Minister for Transport, Martin Cullen, over his remarks this morning that he would "facilitate an investment transaction" in Aer Lingus in the next few weeks saying that it "completely undermines" the upcoming Oireachtas Committees deliberations on the issue of the privatisation of the airline and promised discussions with trade unions.

Deputy Crowe said, "Minister Cullen should listen to the workers and the Irish people at large - we don't want the privatisation of Aer Lingus. It is a profitable company and one in which the state can and should invest in, in accordance with the market economy investor principle".

"It is clear that Martin Cullen has already made up his mind. His comments that he is prepared to facilitate an investment transaction completely undermines the investigation of the Oireachtas Committee into the proposed sale of the airline which is only due to begin on April 6th and his promise to engage with the trade unions on the issue."

Deputy Crowe went on to say, "the privatisation agenda is a flawed and greedy ideology which benefits only the few at the expense of public good. As an island economy we need a national airline. If Aer Lingus is to be sold there will be nothing to stop the new owners from asset-stripping the airline, laying off jobs, selling our prized landing slots at Heathrow and even basing Aer Lingus in London.

"It's a credit to all the staff at Aer Lingus, past and present, that the airline has survived and has been profitable in a volatile market. No one can argue against the fact that the airline is a state asset and not a state liability. The list of failed privatisations is seemingly endless; Railtrack in Britain which resulted in tragic deaths where profit was put before safety; Eircom here which has resulted in no investment in infrastructure and higher prices and of course Air New Zealand, privatised in the late 1980s, bankrupt in the 1990s under private ownership, rescued by the State and now healthy under public ownership.

"If this state can invest in British Airways and Ryanair, as it has through the Pension Reserve fund, it is shameful and a national disgrace that it cannot invest in its own airline, namely Aer Lingus."

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