Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform Seán Fleming TD described Labour Minister Brendan Howlin’s contention that he has secured a major concession on the sale of state assets as brazen in the extreme.

“It was never agreed with the EU/IMF by the last Government that state assets would be sold.  It was never agreed that if assets were to be sold that the proceeds could only pay down the debt.

“The first person to ever agree that the sale of state assets could be used to reduce sovereign debt was Minister Howlin who signed up to this during recent EU/IMF review.  He is using the small concession that one third of the proceeds can be used for reinvestment to hide that fact that he has agreed that two third of the proceeds will be used to pay down debt.

“The extent to which the Labour Party is misleading the public and hiding from the reality that they have bought into Fine Gael’s privatisation agenda is extraordinary.  Fine Gael’s NewERA project was announced in 2009, long before any EU/IMF agreement and Labour cannot hide from that.”

Deputy Fleming said: “No one in Government can point anywhere in the original agreement where the sale of state assets was agreed to and where it says that any proceeds could only be pay down debt.

“The direct result of the decision announced today in relation to Aer Lingus is that once this decision is implemented Aer Lingus as a national carrier will no longer exist.

“The selling off of some of the energy businesses of ESB and Bord Gáis will see private companies taking over these key roles which will inevitably lead to higher prices and job losses.

“This is a sorry outcome for one year of Labour involvement in Government.”