Monday 20 January 2020

DAA hits out at Kenny's claims in Ryanair row

Authority boss admits shock as FG leader says firm gave 'two fingers to 300 high-skilled jobs'


THE head of the Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) has accused Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny of making false claims in the Dail about the DAA and its role in the Ryanair jobs row.

Declan Collier, DAA CEO, accused Mr Kenny of making the statements in the Dail despite one of his senior party colleagues and his special adviser being briefed by the DAA last Tuesday on its legal position.

Mr Collier also said Mr Kenny's comments were "highly damaging" to the DAA.

In an angry three-page letter sent to Mr Kenny on Thursday, which has been obtained by the Sunday Independent, Mr Collier said he wished to "take issue in the strongest possible terms with the claim that you made yesterday that the DAA has given the two fingers to these aircraft maintenance jobs.

"Nothing could be further from the truth."

On Wednesday in the Dail, Mr Kenny said: "The DAA has in effect given two fingers to 300 high-skilled jobs for 300 families in north Dublin and Meath because the Government failed to secure them. The Taoiseach could have intervened.

"If the Taoiseach is supposed to be in charge then he should get out of his seat in Government Buildings and prove it -- invite Mr O'Leary in today and personally intervene, as he did with the banks.

"He wrote a cheque on behalf of the people for €54bn for Nama. Write that cheque, intervene and secure those jobs for Dublin and Meath and prove himself to be the Taoiseach. When I get the chance, when I am over there, I will intervene."

But Mr Collier, who earned a total package of €638,000 last year, expressed his surprise at Mr Kenny's comments, given that party colleague Leo Varadkar and media adviser Ciaran Conlon had been briefed as to the legal position of the DAA the previous day.

"It is particularly surprising that you made that claim as our public affairs director Paul O'Kane had briefed your front-bench colleague Leo Varadkar and your press officer Ciaran Conlon on Tuesday in relation to the fact that Aer Lingus had a valid licence for Hangar 6 and cannot be moved to be replaced with another customer in the manner that is being suggested," Mr Collier said.

His letter concluded by saying Mr Kenny's comments were highly damaging to the DAA and to the morale of staff and said the comments made in the Dail were without foundation.

"Your claim that the DAA has no interest in job creation is hugely damaging to the reputation of this company, is damaging to the morale of its dedicated workforce and is completely without foundation," he said.

In response yesterday, Fine Gael said it rejected outright the line of attack from Mr Collier.

A Fine Gael spokesman confirmed the meeting on Tuesday with Mr O'Kane did take place but said this was nothing more than an attempt by the DAA to justify its involvement in a turf war at the airport when 300 hi-tech jobs were at stake.

"Brian Cowen, Mary Coughlan and the DAA should find a way to secure these jobs with Ryanair.

"Fine Gael's sole focus was on finding a solution. If it is not too late, Brian Cowen should pick up the phone and invite him into his office and find a way to make this happen," the spokesman said.

Sunday Independent

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