O'Leary says Ibec is 'clueless' in cosy exchange with Ross - who still thinks it should be 'extinct'
Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary branded employer representative group Ibec as "clueless" in the course of a cosy exchange of correspondence with Transport Minister Shane Ross.
Mr O'Leary said it was a "shame" that Ibec boss Danny McCoy was a keynote speaker at an aviation conference in a handwritten note to Mr Ross, where he also agreed to deliver a speech at an Independent Alliance event.
The criticism of Ibec likely found a receptive audience with Mr Ross. He previously described the organisation as a "dinosaur" that should be "extinct" in a newspaper column, and confirmed to the Irish Independent that he still held this view.
The correspondence between Mr Ross and Mr O'Leary - released under freedom of information - begins with the minister inviting the Ryanair chief executive to February's National Civil Aviation Development Forum.
Mr McCoy is listed as the keynote speaker during a session entitled 'Aviation: the Critical Enabler for Irish Business and the Irish Economy'.
Mr Ross also includes a note reminding him about an invitation to speak at an Independent Alliance event, adding: "I bet you are sorry you said 'yes' the day I was out at your office!"
Mr O'Leary responded with a note saying he'd be happy to attend the aviation conference.
"Shame about keynote speaker as Ibec are clueless," he added, before saying he was looking forward to meeting the Independent Alliance.
A Ryanair spokesman said Mr O'Leary's opinion was that "Ibec's role in national partnership agreements and benchmarking proves that they are clueless".
He said that Mr O'Leary had yet to deliver his speech to the Independent Alliance but pointed out he has previously spoken to both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. In the 2015 column for the 'Sunday Independent' where Mr Ross said Ibec should be "extinct", Mr Ross praised Mr O'Leary because Ryanair is not a member of the organisation.
He criticised Ibec for its involvement in the social partnership and wrote: "God bless Michael O'Leary, the ultimate entrepreneur, for giving the two fingers to the former social partner."
The Irish Independent asked Mr Ross if he still believed that Ibec should be extinct.
"Since becoming a minister I have changed my opinion on some matters - sadly this is not one of them," he said.
Ibec declined to comment.