Labour motion on Aer Lingus crucial to setting important conditions on sale

25 May 2015

Brendan Ryan, Labour Party TD for Dublin Fingal, has stridently defended the role he and his colleagues in the Labour Party have played in ensuring there are important conditions on the sale of the State’s share in Aer Lingus. 

Speaking in the Dáil today Ryan stated: If the initial offer was accepted, then this would have offered no surety on the employees’ terms of employment, connectivity or a plan for the regions. It has been said before and it is worth stating again, Aer Lingus is a private company, privatised by Fianna Fáil. The state’s share was retained to ensure guarantees over connectivity and the Heathrow slots. We have received that guarantee in this offer. The Minister for Finance will have the ability to block any proposed disposal by Aer Lingus of any of its Heathrow slots indefinitely. This provides stronger protection to the State than the current arrangement, under which the State cannot prevent a re-allocation, re-assignment or cessation of use of the Heathrow slots. The Minister for Finance will also be able to block a proposal by Aer Lingus to change its company name, brand and head office location and place of incorporation from Ireland. This commitment is unlimited in time and provide a protection that, again, does not exist at the moment

Ryan “I briefly want to refer to the dynamic of the last couple of days. I arrived quite late to a Labour Party briefing on Tuesday afternoon, which started at 4.30, to discuss what might be agreed at the adjourned cabinet meeting later. I looked at a letter from Mr Stephen Kavanagh, CEO of AerLingus, to Minister Donoghue which had been provided as evidence that the REA requirement of our Labour Party Conference Motion had been delivered upon.

Ryan “I stated immediately that it hadn't and that the letter did not go far enough. It was woolly and not specific enough in my opinion. That letter got into the public domain later on Tuesday. Discussions on this matter continued into the evening. There was an important phrase in the press release from me and my 7 colleagues late on Tuesday, which largely went unnoticed, but which indicated that we had unfinished business in relation to the REAs.”

Ryan “That phrase read:  "Between now and the formal completion of the sale, we will continue to work towards ensuring that the REA's deliver the best possible outcome for the workers involved" It was not just padding. It was a considered inclusion. Work on that unfinished business would resume the next morning at a further scheduled briefing with Minister Donoghue and, importantly, Mr Kavanagh of Aer Lingus. Mr Kavanagh was questioned by a number of people on the meaning of the letter and what could be taken from its contents. I told him directly that a revised letter to Labour Chair, Jack Wall, with more specific commitments around REA's, would be required to secure all the votes for the deal on Thursday.”

Ryan “There was agreement that efforts would be made by Ged Nash and Mr Kavanagh, in the time before the vote, to come up with the revised letter requested. I am happy to say that the commitments in the new letter from Mr Kavanagh, negotiated and signed off by Ged Nash last night on behalf of the Labour Party and the Government, now address the REA element of our Labour Party Conference Motion.”

Ryan “I am quite certain that the improved offer from IAG, from the time of the first offer, is due in no small part to a group of backbench Labour TDs working together in a focussed way to secure the best possible deal for the future of Aer Lingus, the workforce of Aer Lingus, the country as a whole and all the regions.”