Government's privatisation agenda not delivering - Morgan
Responding to Minister Mary Hannifin's statement on behalf of the government regarding the Aer Lingus fiasco Sinn Féin TD Arthur Morgan has demanded that the government take its head out of the sand and use its shareholding in the company to safeguard the national interest.
Deputy Morgan said, "Minister Hannifan's last night stated that it would be 'inappropriate for the government to intervene in the decision-making of a private company' and by doing so 'would ultimately be damaging to the company and its customers'.
"Surely government intervention is the very reason why a 25.1% shareholding in the company was retained. When Sinn Féin TDs forewarned then Minister for Transport Martin Cullen in Dáil debates of the economically dangerous implications of privatising the airline the Ministers repeatedly responded that the 'shareholding would safeguard the national strategic interest'.
"Sinn Féin also highlighted at the time that this was an empty promise as Fianna Fáil was and still is committed to a privatisation agenda. Taoiseach Ahern's silence and Minister O'Dea's hop-scotching is symptomatic of this agenda. Inward investment, tourism and indigenous business in the mid western region dependent on access to markets provided by the Shannon Heathrow route is now under threat yet the governments formal response is to do nothing.
"Sinn Féin believes the Assembly and Irish government can work together to ensure equitable investment in the country's regions. We have already proposed the amalgamation of Development Agencies North and South working in conjunction with Intertrade Ireland in order to achieve maximum development for the entire island.
"We believe that Aer Lingus can develop its business opportunities in Belfast whilst maintaining the Shannon to Heathrow route. As the company leases a number of its slots to other carriers I can see no reason why some cannot be utilised to service the Belfast routes whilst preserving the Shannon service.
"This government's privatisation agenda is slowly eroding the delivery of strategic and essential services, undermining employment, is side-lining workers terms and conditions whilst adversely affecting the country's economic stability. Privatisation of strategic services and utilities cannot deliver the country's economic and social needs. Eircom and Aer Lingus are evidence alone of this fact." CRíOCH