Aer Lingus must clarify position – BREEN

July 21st, 2009 - Pat Breen

Fine Gael’s Deputy Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Clare T.D. Pat Breen has today called on Aer Lingus to clarify whether or not they are going to use the new US Pre Clearance facility when it becomes operational at Shannon Airport at the end of the month.

Deputy Breen raised this matter on the Order of Business in the Dail this morning and he was ruled out of order.

“This week the Aviation Pre Clearance Bill 2009 passed all stages here in the House and received all-Party Support. The facility at Shannon is due to commence at the end of this month and now we are hearing rumours that Aer Lingus will not be using the facility at Shannon.”

“This would send out the wrong signals if our former National Carrier does not use this facility. Aer Lingus showed the same reluctance in 1986 when US Immigration was first introduced at Shannon Airport. It was expected that other Scheduled Airline Carriers would be convinced of the benefits of this new facility and if Aer Lingus do not use the facility then it will make this task more difficult.”

“It is important now that Aer Lingus clarify their position. I would also urge the Government to use their 25% shareholding in the Airline and have any issues of concern which Aer Lingus may have about using this facility resolved as a matter of urgency.”

See Text Underneath from Today’s Dail Eireann Order of Business.

Deputy Pat Breen: On Tuesday night last, the Aviation (Preclearance) Bill passed through this House and was supported all parties. The Minister for Transport will probably come down to Shannon Airport to launch the facility with fanfare at the end of July. I wish to get assurances from the Tánaiste. There are rumours that our national airline, Aer Lingus, will not use this facility in Shannon Airport when it comes into operation on 30 July.

An Ceann Comhairle: We cannot have a question on who is or who is not going to use the facility, as Deputy Breen well knows. I am aware he probably has a very good reason for asking it.

Deputy Pat Breen: I ask this question because the Government has a 25% shareholding in Aer Lingus.

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy will have to find another way to raise this matter.

Deputy Pat Breen: If I could get assurances from the Tánaiste —–

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy will not get any assurances because the question is not in order.

Deputy Pat Breen: —–that the board members nominated by the Government—–

An Ceann Comhairle: The Deputy will have to raise the matter on the Adjournment or table a parliamentary question—–

Deputy Pat Breen: —–will ensure Aer Lingus uses this facility.

An Ceann Comhairle: —–and then I feel certain he will get an answer.

Deputy Pat Breen: Rumour has it that it will not use it because of the cost.

An Ceann Comhairle: We cannot discuss this on the Order of Business.

Deputy Pat Breen: It sends out a very bad signal in terms of attracting other carriers—–

An Ceann Comhairle: I cannot rule the Deputy in order when everybody else has been ruled out of order in regard to other matters.

Deputy Pat Breen: —–into the region if Aer Lingus does not use this facility.

An Ceann Comhairle: I must call Deputy Rabbitte.

Deputy Pat Breen: Will the Tánaiste give me assurances on that?

An Ceann Comhairle: She cannot do so, as the Deputy well knows.