Communications Energy and Natural Resources

The reason the Government should not sell a 25% stake in Aer Lingus is that it would realise a pittance for it. Bearing in mind the Government’s share and the 15% staff shareholding, one realises the State would lose a vital strategic link and connectivity with Heathrow and other areas. The company has been in existence for decades and has provided secure, permanent, pensionable employment and a good service.

The Labour Party has some neck to posit the sale of State assets as some great move towards job creation. What an absolute betrayal of the people who voted for it. It told them it would protect valuable State concerns although the dogs on the street know that every privatisation inevitably results in job losses. We saw this with Eircom, in respect of which at least 7,000 more jobs were lost. Some 3,500 jobs were lost in Aer Lingus since its part and majority privatisation. We should consider the valuable job creation prospects that would exist if we were to retain the semi-State industries in our control.

We must consider this discussion against the backdrop of the collapse of private sector investment in our economy. This collapse has amounted to €30 billion since 2007. Where will the jobs come from, bearing in mind that the State could be the main mover in job creation? Rather than hiving off parts of our assets, why are we not investing in research, wind and wave energy? The Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources told us 10,000 jobs could be created in the wind and wave energy sectors. Where is this investment? Why is the State not investing in the semi-State concerns?

It is inevitable that workers in the companies in question will resist any attempts to sell off vital assets. They will be supported by the public. I ask that the agenda put forward by the United Left Alliance be accepted and that the workers be supported.