RYANAIR chief Michael O’Leary has said Ryanair is likely to invest more in Ireland and create more jobs here if the country votes Yes next week.
Speaking in a heated debate with Declan Ganley of Libertas, Mr O’Leary said Ireland had changed fundamentally in the last 12 months since the country rejected the treaty in the first referendum.
“Ireland has become a bankrupt country,” he said. “The only thing that is keeping us afloat with an incompetent government is the European Union and the European Central Bank. They are the ones funding NAMA, they are the ones funding the Irish Government at the moment.
“The second thing that has fundamentally changed is that the European Union is bending over backwards to bribe Ireland to vote Yes. We have won some remarkable concessions that are legally binding.
“We keep an EU Commissioner and we keep a veto on direct taxation. If people are worried about income tax and corporation tax the only way to protect that and keep our veto is to vote Yes.”
However, Mr Ganley said there was nothing in the treaty that will create jobs or be good for the Irish economy and he said it was clear Mr O’Leary did not know what was in the treaty.
He also said voting yes would not create any jobs.
“The only job it will save is Brian Cowen’s job. [Job creation] is the only thing [the Government’s] PR consultants have told them might sufficiently scare people to vote Yes.”
Mr O’Leary rejected that.
“I am a major employer in this country and I think if we vote Yes next week Ryanair is more likely to invest more in ireland and create more jobs in Ireland.”
The debate, being held on RTÉ’s Primetime then descended into insults.
“You are flying around with the European Commissioner giving him free chicken dinners on Ryanair when we know no one gets a free lunch on Ryanair,” said Mr Ganley. “Currying favour with the people who blocked your takeover of Aer Lingus is not a reason for anyone to vote yes to this.”
Michael O’Leary retorted: “You said if you did not get elected as an MEP last year you wouldn’t return to campaigning you would go back to work. I wish you would because all you are is a failed politician. We don’t believe you.”
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