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Dublin: 15°C Tuesday 17 May 2022

Can Willie Walsh convince TDs to allow the sale of Aer Lingus?

Here’s everything you need to know about what’s happening in Irish politics right now…

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Everybody’s talking about…

Whether Willie Walsh will be able to convince the Government to not stand in the way of IAG’s Aer Lingus bid.

File Photo Aer Lingus anticipates 150 net job losses from its latest voluntary severance scheme, according to a letter sent to Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton. File photo Source: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

The IAG boss will appear before the Oireachtas Transport Committee at 2pm today, with one clear goal.

IAG, the parent company of British Airways, has to date failed to ease the numerous concerns outlined by various politicians over the sale by offering ‘legally-binding commitments’ that it will operate on Irish routes for the next five years, not sell Aer Lingus’ much-coveted Heathrow slots, and ensure the firm’s headquarters would remain in Ireland. 

Fianna Fáil’s transport spokesperson Timmy Dooley has previously claimed the Government is intent on selling its stake in the airline to raise funds ahead of the next election. This has been denied by Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe.

Others have warned that one in four Aer Lingus employees could lose their jobs if the national carrier suffers the same fate as Spanish airline Iberia during its merger.

IAG is proposing to offer €1.36 billion - €2.55 per share – for the airline, of which the Government owns 25.1%.

Walsh will have to give the performance of his career to convince both Government and opposition TDs the sale is the right move.

The agenda

  • Health Minister Leo Varadkar and Tony O’Brien, Director General of the HSE, will appear before the health committee at 9.30am.
  • At the same time, Richard Bruton will be answering TDs’ jobs-related questions in the Dáil.
  • Representatives from IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland will meet with members of the Public Accounts Committee at 10am.
  • As it’s a Thursday, Tánaiste Joan Burton will have the floor during Leaders’ Questions at 12pm.

Pictured is Tanaiste and Minister for Soc Joan Burton Source: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

  • Taoiseach Enda Kenny travels to Brussels today to attend a meeting of European heads of state. Petro Poroshenko will address leaders on the situation in Ukraine and relations with Russia.
  • Willie Walsh, the CEO of IAG, will appear before the transport committee at 2pm to discuss the potential sale of Aer Lingus.
  • The Dáil will debate the Climate Action Bill before discussing Topical Issues at 4.42pm.
  • A protest against water charges and the arrests of people in relation to the Jobstown incident will be held by the Socialist party outside the Department of Justice at 6.30pm.

Inside Leinster House

Anne Ferris was the only Government TD to break the whip and support Clare Daly’s abortion bill this week – although others were said to be very close to doing the same. Ferris is likely to be allowed to rejoin the parliamentary party.Fianna Fáil allowed a free vote on the issue, while Sinn Féin abstained.

A Fianna Fáil backbencher said this week may mark a turning point in how the Government views the whip system, adding he thinks it will be hugely loosened in relation to issues of conscience in the coming years.

What the others are saying

  • The Socialist Party is expected to bring up the arrest of member Paul Murphy with Joan Burton during Leaders’ Questions, according to the Irish Examiner. Expect a showdown.
  • The same paper reports that Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan has said she can’t get involved in the dispute between Cork and Tralee ITs over a planned merger. 
  • HSE boss Tony O’Brien has warned the Government that patients will face clinical risks this year due to funding shortages in the health service, reports the Irish Times

In case you missed it

  • Russell Brand weighed in on the Jobstown arrests.
  • Figures revealed how much the Government is investing in Irish Water.
  • Former Justice Minister Alan Shatter said he’ll run for re-election.
  • A Fine Gael backbencher wants to radically change how we elect TDs.
  • Environment Minister Alan Kelly had some choice words for homelessness campaigner Fr Peter McVerry.
  • Sinn Féin held a demonstration outside Leinster House to show its solidarity with the Greek government as it attempts to restructure the country’s debt deal.
  • A proposal to include cigarette-style warnings on betting slips was rejected in the Seanad.
  • The Dáil could soon be debating legislation that would allow gardaí to strike.

On the Tweet machine

The marriage equality debate continues…

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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