The Taoiseach was challenged tonight to personally intervene to secure 300 promised Ryanair jobs at Dublin Airport.
Brian Cowen was urged to step into the dispute as Tánaiste Mary Coughlan bowed to pressure and entered talks with the carrier boss Michael O’Leary over a maintenance base at Dublin Airport.
The Tánaiste is meeting Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary around now
to see if its still possible for the airline to create 300 new jobs at Dublin Airport.
The no-frills airline chief wants the Enterprise Minister to get Dublin Airport Authority (DAA) to sell or lease Hanger 6, formerly used by SR Technics, to Ryanair.
However she is to tell him that the Government will not oust Aer Lingus from Hanger 6 at the airport - which is being sought by Ryanair for a maintainance facility.
Opposition parties launched an attack on the Government and Ms Coughlan, accusing them of being incompetent and making a mess of the potential deal.
Enda Kenny, Fine Gael leader, said: “The challenge for you Taoiseach is this - are you prepared to take charge of this as I do not believe in the competence of the Tánaiste to do anything about securing these high-tech jobs?
“Will you cancel your diary, take charge of this, act as Taoiseach and secure these jobs for north Dublin?”
Mr Cowen rejected what he described as personalised attacks on Ms Coughlan.
Mr O’Leary refuses to deal with the DAA and maintains hundreds of jobs can only be kept in Ireland if the Tánaiste intervenes.
DAA says the hanger is already leased to Aer Lingus – which Mr O’Leary wants moved to another smaller facility at the airport.
Mr Cowen told the Dáil there were viable options to secure the jobs, including building a new hanger, as Hanger 6 was already leased to Aer Lingus.
He said the issue of focusing on Hanger 6 only needs to be looked at.
“At the end of the day what we have to do is sit down in a sensible and rational and calm way and see in what way we can find a viable project for this to go forward,” the Taoiseach said.
More than 1,000 skilled engineering jobs were lost when SR Technics closed last April.
Mr O’Leary has claimed the enterprise minister ignored his aim to create 500 posts at the facility and instead relocated 200 of those jobs to Scotland last week.
Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore accused the Government and Ms Coughlan of making a mess of salvaging the SR Technics jobs.
He said the deal had been treated in a ham-fisted, negligent manner.
“You, your Government, the Tánaiste did little or nothing to save those (SR Technics) jobs in the first place, and when a business man comes along with a viable proposal to do it, all kinds of obstacles are put in their way and you don’t come round to addressing it until the Tánaiste is embarrassed into it,” Mr Gilmore said.