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Saturday 17 November 2018

TDs delay Dail to debate buyout proposal

Senan Molony and Geraldine Collins

RYANAIR's dramatic air raid on Aer Lingus sparked outrage in the Dail yesterday and a brief suspension of the day's business.

The Greens, Labour, and Independent Joe Higgins all demanded the suspension of normal business to debate the audacious takeover bid, which they claimed threatened the terms and conditions of workers at the former State airline.

Mr Higgins said Ryanair had inserted itself as a cuckoo in the Aer Lingus nest.

"This has the most serious consequences for passenger welfare, workers' wages and conditions and trade union rights," he said.

The overnight revelation that Ryanair had snapped up a 16pc share of its rival "shows the utter debacle that the privatisation of the national airline has now turned into", he added, warning that the move could now result "in a ruthless private monopoly controlling airline capacity in this country".

Transport spokeswoman Olivia Mitchell said a takeover by Ryanair would result in a single dominant airline in the Irish market and immediately wipe out competition on British and European routes.

Eamon Ryan, spokesman for the Greens, said: "This deal may make sense for Michael O'Leary but it makes the Irish Government look like complete fools.

"The sale of the national carrier made no strategic sense from the outset. Such a sale was always likely to open the door for hostile takeover attempts."

As TDs clamoured for answers, the Dail was suspended for a short time. Later on, a special-notice question on the issue was taken by Transport Minister Martin Cullen.

He emphasised that the Government was not going to sell its shareholding.

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