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Can Labour stand over the sale of family silver?

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

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Everybody’s talking about… 

joan-burton-17 Source: TheJournal.ie

Could the potential sale of Aer Lingus spark the first cabinet row of the new year? Ministers meet this morning to discuss the proposed sale to IAG as the board of the airline has recommended the takeover. Any decision to sell the State’s 25 per cent share will need Dáil approval according to the Irish Times and that’s where it becomes politically problematic.

Some Labour backbenchers were already setting out their stall yesterday with former minister Joe Costello saying there were too many unresolved issues for the sale to be considered. “The reason for retaining the 25% stake when Aer Lingus was privatised in the mid-1990s was to protect the national interest.  In this respect nothing has changed,” Costello said.

It’s unlikely he’s alone in thinking that.  Don’t forget that this is a Labour party already reeling from having been seen to capitulate to Fine Gael on far too many issues over the past four years. Today’s discussions will be closely monitored.

Meanwhile, the opposition parties are opposing any prospect of a sale, Fianna Fáil is even invoking the spirit of Seán Lemass:

lemass aer lingus Source: Fianna Fáil Facebook

The agenda 

  • Charlie Flanagan is in Poland for an event to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz Birkenau. 
  • 10.30am: As mentioned, the Cabinet meets in Government Buildings. 
  • 11am: President Michael D Higgins is delivering a major address to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. You can watch it live here.  
  • 3.15pm: Expect the Aer Lingus sale to be raised at Leaders’ Questions 
  • 7.30pm: Fianna Fáil’s private members’ motion is on mortgages and the housing market. Timely given the Central Bank is due to consider its proposed radical rules on deposits this week
  • The Seanad and several Oireachtas committees also meet today. All details here.

Inside Leinster House 

The curious case of the senator refusing to leave the office he’s being forced out of by former Labour colleagues rumbles on. If anything, it appears to be escalating.

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What the others are saying 

  • Michael Lowry has bemoaned ‘political correctness gone mad’ in an interview with the Irish Times
  • The government is to consider plans to establish a permanent Electoral Commission, according to the Irish Independent
  • The Irish Examiner reports that the coalition is being slammed by medical and community leaders who were part of the alcohol strategy group for dropping plans to ban alcohol sponsorship of sporting events. 

In case you missed it 

On the Twitter machine 

The Claire Byrne Live debate between Gerry Adams and Joan Burton had Twitter buzzing last night with even the TDs going at each other:

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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