Tanaiste let 500 airport jobs slip
O'Leary plan thwarted by inaction
Published 14/02/2010 | 05:00
RYANAIR chief Michael O'Leary has slammed Tanaiste Mary Coughlan, blaming her for the loss of 500 engineering jobs which the low-cost carrier had intended to create at Dublin Airport.
In a move that will be deeply embarrassing for Ms Coughlan, Mr O'Leary has released copies of his correspondence with the Tanaiste on Ryanair's job creation proposals to the Sunday Independent, and pointedly accused her of failing to act upon them.
The letters reveal how Ryanair offered to take over the former SR Technics facility at Dublin Airport and re-employ 500 of the aircraft engineers who worked there before it closed last summer.
In making the offer, Ryanair's only condition was that Ms Coughlan, as Minister for Enterprise, or the IDA would act as intermediary with the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) as it negotiated the lease of the former SR Technics hanger.
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Mr O'Leary's refusal to deal directly with the DAA is understandable given his fraught relationship with the authority on a range of issues, including landing charges.
But while the Ryanair chief's position might be understood, the Tanaiste's refusal to directly intervene will baffle the nation, particularly at the end of a week in which Bank of Scotland (Ireland) announced its decision to close its Irish retail business and make 750 staff redundant. Her inaction will be even harder to take for the 1,135 former SR Technics workers, many of whom are now on the dole.
Explaining the reasons for her refusal to intervene with the DAA in a letter to Mr O'Leary on August 12 last year, Ms Coughlan said while she would do whatever she could to progress the proposals, she didn't believe further progress would be possible without "direct discussion between Ryanair and the DAA".
Last Wednesday, the consequences of the Government's refusal to intercede with the DAA were made clear as Ryanair announced it was opening a new €10m maintenance facility at Glasgow's Prestwick Airport, creating 200 engineering jobs. The opening of a second facility with the creation of a further 300 engineering jobs in another EU country is expected to be announced later this year.