Fianna Fáil has called on the Government to firmly rule out the sale of the State’s shareholding in Aer Lingus now that the Minister for Transport appears to have finally recognised its strategic importance.

The party’s Transport Spokesperson Timmy Dooley said, “I am pleased that Minister Donohoe finally appears to have realised the strategic importance of the State’s stake in Aer Lingus. In the national interest, what the Government must do now is take a firm stand and publicly state that the citizens’ stake in the national airline is not for sale.

“The Minister’s attempt to kick any decision further down the road by seeking more meaningless ‘assurances’ is simply not good enough. It smacks of news management and a weak attempt to appease nervous Labour representatives ahead of the party’s conference this weekend. The reality is that when the country’s stake in the airline is gone it’s gone, and any previously agreed assurances become very difficult for the State to enforce.

“This matter is far too important for political posturing. As an island nation, I believe we have a long term strategic interest in retaining a State interest in our links to the rest of the world. Our economy depends on it. The Government must do the responsible thing and take a firm stand against pressure to withdraw entirely from Aer Lingus.”