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Tanaiste moves to allay fears over Aer Lingus sale

TANAISTE Joan Burton has sought to allay fears of Labour TDs opposed to the sale of the State's share in Aer Lingus without cast-iron guarantees on jobs and connectivity.

Ms Burton met with a group of mostly North Dublin TDs who have expressed serious concerns about a sale since the potential deal with IAG was first mooted earlier this year.

Deputy Brendan Ryan said the group sought assurances from Ms Burton on a motion agreed by Labour members at its recent party conference.

At the Labour Party conference in Killarney, members passed a motion rejecting IAG's €1.3bn bid for the State's 25.1pc stake in Aer Lingus.

The motion also called for solid guarantees around jobs and the crucial landing slots at Heathrow Airport.

"We met with the Tanaiste and senior staff to reaffirm the conference motion and what is outlined in the motion would be our expectation before any decision was made to sign off on the sale," Mr Ryan told the Herald.

"She informed us that as far as the party is concerned the conference motion would be what she would be seeking to have addressed.

"The message we got clearly was that the conference motion was very important and she would be seeking guarantees around all of those things."

Ms Burton suggested a deal could be a long way off, despite earlier claims by Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe that it would be concluded "within weeks".

"There is a whole series of discussions which are ongoing, but there has been no decision reached and I don't anticipate that there will be for some time," she said.

Other Government TDs last night said they continue to have reservations about whether to sell the 25.1pc stake.

Labour TD Sean Kenny said he is still against the current deal and insisted any other future offer would have to give guarantees around jobs and connectivity.

Fine Gael deputy Alan Farrell said he "remains greatly concerned for the jobs in Aer Lingus".

And Independent TD Tommy Broughan insisted he is adamantly against the sale and warned of growing unrest among people living in the area who work for the company.