Critics round on Tánaiste over jobs row

The Tánaiste today faced growing accusations that she missed a glaring opportunity to secure a massive Ryanair jobs boost for Dublin Airport.

Mary Coughlan hit back at claims from the budget carrier that the Government ignored its offer of 500 new engineering posts at the hub, insisting every effort was made to land the jobs.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary said Ms Coughlan and Transport Minister Noel Dempsey did nothing to help secure a deal between the carrier and the Dublin Airport Authority.

Ryanair, who wanted the Government to act as intermediary between it and the DAA, said the carrier instead turned to Glasgow Prestwick airport, opening a new maintenance base employing 200 people.

Adding to the pressure on the Tánaiste, Fine Gael said the Government let the jobs slip by at a time when the economy most needed it.

James Reilly, North Dublin TD, said: “The people of North County Dublin are incensed to hear that the Tánaiste has missed an opportunity to facilitate the creation of 500 jobs in their area.

“There are now 500 families who face an unnecessarily bleak future because of this Minister’s incompetence.”

Mr O’Leary asked the Government to negotiate with the DAA to get them to sell or lease the SR Technics hanger at the same price the authority had bought it.

SR Technics closed last April at Dublin Airport with the loss of 1100 jobs in aircraft maintenance.

Mr O’Leary said Ryanair had now invested £8m to build a new hanger at Glasgow Prestwick Airport with over 200 new engineering and support jobs.

He said another maintenance hub would be opened in another EU country later in the year.

Mr Reilly added: “Ryanair’s offer to create 500 jobs at the former SR Technics site represented just such an opportunity which the Tánaiste seems to either not have recognised or failed to manage with any competence.

“We simply do not have the luxury to let the prospect of 500 jobs pass us by in this or any other economic climate.”

Fine Gael Enterprise spokesman Leo Varadkar said the Tánaiste must now take a leading role by meeting the Dublin Airport Authority, the IDA and Ryanair.

In a letter from Ms Coughlan to Mr O’Leary dated last August, supplied by Ryanair, Ms Coughlan said she was supportive of the project but believed further progress would not be possible without direct talks between the DAA and Ryanair.

In a letter dated last Wednesday to Ms Coughlan, the Ryanair chief said she and Mr Dempsey had treated the offer with inaction and indifference.

Ms Coughlan said every effort was made to clinch the jobs but it was not possible to access the hanger.

She said her department and state agencies remain available to help with any Ryanair investment.

In a statement the DAA said it never received any requests from Ryanair about its plans and that it would have been open to negotiations.

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