A series of Government ministers have moved to insist nothing has been agreed on the sale of Aer Lingus after former minister Pat Rabbitte claimed the deal was in the best interests of the country.
The comments were made as the airline prepares to publish its annual results today, and as Aer Lingus unions distanced themselves from a claim by an umbrella group secretary the sale should be backed by staff.
Speaking at separate events yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan, Jobs Minister Richard Bruton, and Tánaiste Joan Burton said space must be given to those making the “very difficult decision”.
Mr Flanagan said that Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe and the Government inter-departmental group examining the IAG bid need to be “given the opportunity to amass all the information”, while Mr Bruton said all aspects of the issue need to be given full consideration.
“I think the calm approach that Paschal [Donohoe] is taking in assessing the issues carefully reflects the right approach for the Government to take on an issue that clearly is high stakes from the country’s point of view and on which there are legitimate points of view expressed. We need to make a decision based on the best possible information in the interests of the country and that’s what Paschal and the Government will do,” he said.
Ms Burton appeared to pull back from weekend remarks by Mr Rabbitte that he was convinced the IAG deal should be accepted, and said all her party colleague was doing was examining what option was best for Aer Lingus and the country.
Despite recent reports of members of the Coalition favouring the sale, she said the Government will wait for comprehensive advice on all issues relating to the IAG bid and its potential impact before making a decision.
The public comments came as Aer Lingus prepares to publish its annual report, which will provide details on its current financial health, later today. It also followed union meetings with IAG yesterday over the proposed takeover.
Siptu and Impact unions are due to brief their Aer Lingus shop stewards today and tomorrow to further clarify their stance on the €1.36bn takeover offer before meeting management at the end of this week.
Prior to the IAG meeting, Siptu said it was undecided on IAG’s assurances regarding Aer Lingus’s future should a buyout succeed.
Impact suggested it was still of the opinion that a takeover does not offer job security and connectivity guarantees.
Yesterday’s meetings followed weekend comments by Myles Worth, secretary of Aer Lingus’ Central Representative Council — a group of union representatives within the airline — warning of the airline’s future in the event of no deal happening and claiming unions and staff were now broadly in favour of a deal being done.
However, in a letter to Aer Lingus’ chief executive designate dated Sunday, Impact distanced itself from Mr Worth’s comments.
“The points made, particularly those that purport to reflect that the majority of staff in the company and their trade unions were in favour of the proposed IAG takeover of Aer Lingus, were not authorised by us and are, in fact, far from the case,” the letter said.