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Dublin: 5 °C Friday 15 November, 2019
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'A stage-managed charade': TDs are VERY unhappy about the Aer Lingus sale

The Aer Lingus sale is coming in for heavy criticism in the Dáil today.

THE COALITION HAS come under fire in the Dáil over the decision to accept an IAG proposal to buy the State’s 25.1 per cent stake in Aer Lingus.

The government yesterday decided to back IAG’s €1.4 billion buyout of airline after four months of uncertainty.

The deal values the taxpayer-owned share at around €335 million.

After a blazing row over Dáil procedures, a lengthy debate over the proposal to sell the airline got underway and involved several contributions with nearly all opposition parties and independents TDs opposing the sale.

Independent left TD Clare Daly said the main driver of the IAG bid was to satisfy the commercial interests of the aviation giant’s British, European and Middle Eastern shareholders.

She accused the government of orchestrating the protracted negotiations over IAG’s offer which resulted in a bid with improved conditions that was agreed by cabinet last night.

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There is absolutely no doubt now in my mind that the process that has been under way over the past number of months is nothing more than a stage-managed, orchestrated charade designed to give the illusion that ye were tossing and turning and debating issues and wrestling concessions from IAG, when in actual fact ye’d already decided upon the outcome long ago.

Anti-austerity TD Ruth Coppinger accused the government of “steamrollering” the motion through the Dáil giving no time for those opposed to the sale to put pressure on Labour TDs over “this act of treachery”.

“It won’t be forgotten and will be the final nail in their [Labour's] coffin. Aer Lingus doesn’t need IAG, IAG needs Aer Lingus.”

Last night, the eight Labour TDs who had opposed the original offer – including Joe Costello, Dominic Hannigan and John Lyons – indicated they were supportive of the revised proposal.

Banking inquiry chairman and Cork South-Central TD Ciarán Lynch said the revised offer is a “very significant improvement” on the original offer and represents a good deal.

Sinn Féin’s transport spokesperson, Dessie Ellis, said that the decision would be one the country would come to regret in the future.

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This is the wrong deal for Ireland and Labour knows it, but they do not have the courage to act on that knowledge. Fine Gael and IAG are thick as thieves and your party having got the run around are being trotted out to say how all concerns have been allayed.

“Aer Lingus is worth infinitely more to Ireland than the €335 million this government will get for cashing in the 25 per cent Fianna Fáil left the state with after their calamitous reign,” he said.

For its part, Fianna Fáil said tonight it would attempt to suspend further Dáil debate and the proposed vote on the sale after the emergence of a consultants report which sets out out a range of cost reductions across the airline.

The Nyras report, which was commissioned by Aer Lingus, includes a proposal to outsource part of the the airline’s aircraft maintenance to Eastern Europe.

Transport spokesperson Timmy Dooley said the report needs consideration by the government and TDs. He called for the Dáil debate to be suspended in the meantime.

“If there is a shred of good faith on the Government benches, there will be no vote on the future of Aer Lingus unless and until TDs get to examine all the relevant paperwork relating to this deal and to the airline’s plans, including the Nyras Report,” he said.

Originally published 6.42pm

Read: VERY angry scenes in the Dáil as TDs clash over Aer Lingus deal

Read: How Willie wooed the government on Aer Lingus – and what happens next

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Hugh O'Connell

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