16.08.07 - Shannon controversy highlights failure of privatisation

The controversy over the decision by Aer Lingus to cease flights to Heathrow out of Shannon airport highlights the need to keep Ireland’s strategic infrastructure in public hands, according to Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan O’Brien.

“What we see happening at Shannon today could face us in Cork tomorrow, if Aer Lingus felt it could operate more profitably in another location. The decision is a natural consequence of the privatisation of Aer Lingus by the government. As a private company, the board of Aer Lingus have a legal duty to their shareholders to maximise profits. They will move their operations to wherever they feel they can best achieve this. They do not feel any duty to Ireland, Shannon, Cork, or anywhere else.”

“The parade of Fianna Fáil backbenchers emerging to demand the reversal of this decision are guilty of breath-taking hypocrisy. They were happy to support the privatisation of Aer Lingus, but when it acts as a private company they demand the state step in to alter its decision.”

“The issue here is not one of North versus South, or the West versus the rest. It is about the consequences of the state’s privatisation agenda which sees decisions about key infrastructural projects, affecting jobs and livelihoods, being made on the basis of corporate greed rather than social need.”

“Aer Lingus should reverse its decision. But the buck stops with the government which privatised the airline. The lesson of this controversy is that key pieces of infrastructure that are essential to national prosperity and development need to be kept firmly in public hands.”

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