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Ó Caoláin seeks opposition alliance on Aer Lingus dispute

5 September, 2007

Sinn Féin Dáil Leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has confirmed this morning that he has written to the leader of the Fine Gael Party Enda Kenny and the acting leader of the Labour Party Liz McManus in a bid to form a political alliance against the Aer Lingus decision to withdraw its Shannon Heathrow route and in support of the Aer Lingus workers' demands for equal pay and conditions across the island.

Speaking today Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "Last week my colleague and party chairperson Mary Lou McDonald led a party delegation which included Martin Ferris TD and party representatives from the mid western region to meet with the Shannon Action Group. At that meeting it was agreed that I would write to the leaders of all the opposition parties in a bid to form a political alliance with the remit of putting pressure on government to ensure the Aer Lingus Shannon Heathrow route is retained. I can now confirm that I have done just that.

"It is my hope that collectively Sinn Féin, Fine Gael and the Labour Party can maximise pressure on the Government to use its 25.1% share in Aer Lingus in the strategic economic interest of the state, as was promised on numerous occasions in the Dáil Chamber last year by the Taoiseach, by the then Minister for Transport Martin Cullen TD and by Minister of State Pat 'The Cope' Gallagher TD.

"The government can, under company law, demand an EGM and it would be negligent of it not to do so. Taoiseach Ahern has a responsibility to the mid western region to seek to direct the Aer Lingus Board of Management to secure the future of the route.

"With Aer Lingus management clearly pursuing a race to the bottom pay structure it is important that the Government ensures that pay and conditions are harmonised across the island. This should also be the objective of any new political alliance of the opposition on this issue.

"It is clear that this issue has caused internal disputes within the Fianna Fáil Party and it is not unlikely that there could be division in that party if and when it comes to a vote in the Dáil. This makes it all the more vital that there is a united opposition as there would then be a very real possibility that we could force the Government to demand an EGM to reverse this disastrous decision." ENDS

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