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Labour TD to lose Dáil office after voting against Aer Lingus sale

Michael McNamara is set to lose the Labour whip after saying he cannot support the proposed sale of Aer Lingus to IAG.

Updated 5.20pm

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MICHAEL MCNAMARA HAS lost the Labour whip after voting against the government on the proposed sale of Aer Lingus.

McNamara confirmed his opposition to the offloading of the state’s 25.1 per cent stake to IAG in a Dáil vote on the government motion this afternoon.

The motion passed by 74 votes to 51 with Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and most other opposition deputies opposing the sale.

McNamara was the only government deputy to vote down the motion. Renua TDs also supported the government.

It’s the third time he has voted against the government in the last two years but he is now automatically expelled from the Labour parliamentary party as a result of defying the party whip on this occasion.

Labour chief whip Emmet Stagg earlier confirmed that McNamara will be asked to vacate his office in the Labour wing of Leinster House and find alternative facilities.

Earlier, the Clare TD told the Dáil that he does not have confidence in the guarantees that have been given over the sale and therefore cannot support the motion.

He told the Dáil: “We know that there are no certainties in the shifting world of aviation consolidation. Indeed IAG, from the time they first mooted they were interested in Aer Lingus to now, it was suggested they might be subject to a take over bid.”

McNamara said he had too many outstanding questions which had not been answered, and added:

I am not prepared to gamble with what I believe is key to the economic development of this state, all of this state.

He raised concerns about any minister for finance being able to enforce the golden share that the government will retain in Aer Lingus if and when the sale goes through.

He also questioned the timing of the motion before the Dáil today and “the haste at which it’s being moved” given the sale is six months to a year away from going through.

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Speaking on RTÉ radio shortly after his Dáil speech, McNamara said he had too many unanswered questions about the deal.

I would like a lot more certainty about connectivity, about what’s going to happen to Ireland’s Heathrow slots, about what’s going to happen to our connectivity – particularly Shannon’s connectivity to North America which is crucial to its ongoing development and the development of the region which it serves.

Significant assurances on jobs and outsourcing made last night by the CEO of Aer Lingus had come about as a result of the efforts of Labour TDs, he said.  However, he said still wasn’t satisfied with that enough of his concerns had been addressed.

McNamara held talks with the Tánaiste Joan Burton, Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe and Labour whip Emmet Stagg yesterday as he wavered over whether to support the motion.

Asked earlier whether he expected to lose the party whip, he said:

I don’t know. That will be a matter for the parliamentary Labour party.

He has twice voted against the government in recent times and a senior Labour source confirmed to last night that it would be “three strikes and out”.

Originally published at 12pm. Additional reporting by Daragh Brophy.

Read: Unions split on new Aer Lingus letter: SIPTU: “Important” …. IMPACT: “A fig leaf”

More: This TD WILL be expelled if he votes against Labour tomorrow

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Hugh O'Connell

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