Shane Ross

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Aer Lingus Sale could Fail to Get Off the Ground

Posted on: April 5th, 2006

The Minister was very happy to appear on “Prime Time” last night in order to answer no questions whatsoever. It would be helpful if he were to come into the Seanad to debate this very serious issue. It is one of the most important issues of the day.

It may some but I share Senator Brendan Ryan’s belief that the Government has not yet made the business case for the privatisation of Aer Lingus. While there is a case and I tend to believe in it, we are now in an extraordinary muddle where people do not know where they stand. Last night, when asked, the Minister, Deputy Cullen, indicated he did not know when privatisation will happen nor how many shares the Government would hold. Such an approach is in danger of back-firing quite badly.

Privatisation is being postponed again. I do not know who is behind it and who is in control but this is an issue which should be debated here in the House, not only outside it. I gather the latest development is that the Minister has told the unions and particularly the management to sort out issues which should have been addressed months ago.

What is happening behind closed doors is very important in this case. Our role is to express our views and make the Minister accountable to the House for what is going on. At present there is no accountability in this very important area.

This is going to be a very difficult State asset to sell if the Government continues making a complete mess of it. It is only seeking a mere €400 million.

In light of the fact that the Government is only seeking a mere €400 million, which will not even buy two Boeing jets, should we not reconsider the decision to privatise the airline?