Friday 20 April 2018

'I asked for information about the sale of Aer Lingus and they refused,' Labour's Michael McNamara

Clare TD Michael McNamara. Photo: Tom Burke
Clare TD Michael McNamara. Photo: Tom Burke

David Kearns

Labour TD Michael McNamara said he can not vote in favour of the sale of Aer Lingus because senior party figures 'refused to share' information about the sale.

The Clare TD said he sought to have his fears over the country’s future connectivity addressed but that the Minister for Transport Paschal Donohoe and Tanaiste Joan Burton refused to let him see the information he wanted.

“I sought assurances from various party ministers, including Tanaiste Joan Burton and Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe, but I was told they couldn’t let me see the information I wanted to see.. and you know, at this stage a vote is taking place.”

Read More: Labour TD Michael McNamara not willing to 'gamble' on Government sale of Aer Lingus to IAG

“They didn’t give me a reason. I suppose government backbenchers are not in the habit of seeking information from ministers... nor ministers in the habit of sharing information with government backbenchers.”

Speaking to Newstalk Radio, the Labour TD said he did not have faith in the Government’s ‘golden share’.

“Other Labour TDs concerns were primarily around workers in Aer Lingus, and work has been done in that regard to receive assurances for those workers."

“[But] my primary concern is connectivity… especially to the western sea board… [and] while the deal at the moment does include a ‘golden share’ that the Minister can use to exercise control over that, there has been issues in the past regarding golden shares.”

“Irish Sugar for example, and we all know what happened with that. There were golden shares in the British Airport Authority, which owns Heathrow, and there the highest court in Europe found them to be in conflict with competition law."

“I have concerns because we are an island nation and we are uniquely vulnerable given our position in Europe. We can’t get a train somewhere, to get off Ireland you need to take a plane or boat.”

Read More: SIPTU president Jack O'Connor has warned that Labour's support of the controversial Aer Lingus sale will be considered carefully by his members before deciding on whether to back the party ahead of the next general election.

Mr McNamara, who now risks losing the Labour Party whip, apologised to Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe but said he did not have 'confidence' in the deal agreed by the Government.

The Dail is due to vote on selling the State’s shareholding around 4.40pm today.

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