Thursday 29 September 2016

Some plane speaking in the Dáil for once, but the Aer Lingus deal is surely up, up and away

Published 28/05/2015 | 02:30

Colleagues Una Ayers, Jo Breheny and Lizanne Sullivan were at Dublin Airport to catch an Aer Lingus flight for a business trip. Airport. Una said the airline is “synonymous with Ireland”, so she would like the shamrock to remain part of the brand’s identity
Colleagues Una Ayers, Jo Breheny and Lizanne Sullivan were at Dublin Airport to catch an Aer Lingus flight for a business trip. Airport. Una said the airline is “synonymous with Ireland”, so she would like the shamrock to remain part of the brand’s identity

Seasoned fliers know the drill: board the plane, click on the seatbelt, leaf through the duty-free mag while trying to tune out the safety song-and-dance routine taking place in the aisle.

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We know the cabin crew are obliged to put on this pre-flight performance and that one should dutifully pay attention, but it can be tedious when you've heard it many times before and are dubious about the claims being made (like, you know, a little whistle will be darn useful when we ditch into a storm-tossed Atlantic ocean).

There are days (too many, alas) like this, when veteran Dáil-watchers experience a similar emotional pot-pourri of ennui and deja-vu.

Days when there is a familiarity to the shapes being thrown on both sides of the political aisle.

And that particular scent was in the air yesterday morning when the proposed sale of the state's shares in Aer Lingus took centre stage in the Dáil. Inevitably the Government troops were doing the hard sell on all the positive points of the deal with all the assiduousness of Ryanair staff flogging scratch-cards. And equally inevitably, the opposition were trying to create as much turbulence as they could - without necessarily sending the €1.4bn deal into freefall.

First of all, the Dáil day kicked off with a spot of ructions from the opposition over what they regarded as the supersonic speed by which the debate is being conducted in the Oireachtas, culminating in a vote on the deal this afternoon.

Micheál Martin was on the warpath from the get-go, expressing serious unhappiness at the notion of changing the order of Dáil business to accommodate a two-day debate.

The Government, he griped, was "trying to ram and railroad this proposal through the Dáil without adequate analysis or any due respect.

"It's a kind of slippery, slieveen approach to orchestrating the business of the House," he charged angrily.

While the vote to change the Order of Business (which of course the Government won handily by 65 to 39) was proceeding, it gave one time to reflect that the practise of an administration with a decent majority doing what they bloody well like in the Dáil chamber is no newly-arrived phenomenon. Therefore the bitter complaints from Fianna Fáil of being ignored were met by blithe unconcern from the government benches.

And so as Leaders Questions' trundled down the runway, a distinct feeling emerged of witnessing an onboard safety demonstration.

Bah!" harrumphed the Government benches. For their part, both the Taoiseach and Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe were strapped in and ready for a bumpy flight. They stuck to their good-news guns.

"More jobs," chanted Enda doggedly as he stuck to the mantra: Connectivity. Expansion. Best interest of Aer Lingus and the people. No contempt for the House.

(And the life-jackets are under our seats).

Clare Daly, former union shop steward at Dublin Airport, was irate. The whole deal was "a new low" for the Government "in terms of its arrogance, undemocratic manoeuvring and contempt for the House," she seethed.

"What's the big hurry?" she asked Enda.

The Taoiseach rose. "A good old rant there from deputy Daly," he remarked snippily. The Dublin North TD is one of the few members of the opposition with the ability to get on his nerves.

Again he reiterated the litany of goodies which awaits if the IAG deal goes through, from more jobs, to job security, to securing the routes between Ireland and London Heathrow. "This is about growing the economy and connectivity," he recited. (The Taoiseach is now quite adept at the gobbledegook of the hard sell).

The opposition remain angry and unconvinced by what IAG boss Willie Walsh hailed as a "growth story" for Aer Lingus.

But the deal's unlikely to be grounded now. Up, up and away, no matter the opposition say.

Irish Independent

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