THE Irish Government has voted in favour of selling its Aer Lingus stake to British Airways owner IAG.
The Dáil took the matter to a vote yesterday afternoon, with a majority of 74 votes to 51 emerging in favour of the sale.
The issue has been causing tension between the parties in the Oireachtas – with many TDs and Senators expressing fears that the sale could damage links between Heathrow and the main Irish airports could suffer.
However, after months of deliberation, an agreement was reached on Tuesday that the Government would take it to a vote.
International Airlines Group (IAG) is obliged to retain the service between Heathrow and Dublin, Shannon and Cork Airports for a minimum of seven years once the deal goes through – and Aer Lingus’ headquarters will remain in Ireland.
However, this set alarm bells ringing for some TDs.
Labour’s Michael McNamara was the only Government TD to vote against the sale – saying in a statement: “I spoke with the Minister for Transport, the Tánaiste, as well as experts in European law before concluding that the sale was not in the best interest of the country, and in particular regional development.”
Labour Chief Whip Emmet Stagg wrote to Deputy McNamara and informed him he had lost the party whip because of his decision.
Despite the sale of the state’s share, Ryanair remains the biggest stakeholder in Aer Lingus, with a 29 per cent share.