Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Aer Lingus' Dermot Mannion should tell the likes of Willie O'Dea where to get off

Aer Lingus Chief Executive Dermot Mannion

These are testing times for Aer Lingus Chief Executive Dermot Mannion and in the interest of the airline, he should hold the line against bishops, opportunistic local politicians in the Mid-West Region, the demands of business folk who take tough decisions like him every day, Ryanair's chance to make some hay from the Shannon debacle and the top earner pilots/shareholders who dislike the model that has turned Ireland from an economic backwater into an advanced economy.

We have an advanced economy but our governance system has a 1920's vintage where there is little accountability and passing the buck is the rule rather than the exception.

Limerick politician Willie O'Dea has a non-job in the Cabinet as Minister for Defence but nevertheless, he supported the privatisation of Aer Lingus in 2006. Like most Irish politicians, he is par excellance, the local messenger boy/fixer who in the Irish system, do the work that a citizens' bureau system handles elsewhere.

Long-term policy issues are generally of secondary importance to most Irish politicians.

Junior minister in adjacent constituency of Clare, Tony Killeen, is another local messenger boy who earlier this year disclosed that his constituency office mails more than 14,000 letters annually. Killeen was interviewed on RTE Radio 1's Morning Ireland programme today and he said that he did not understand the implications of the request of Ryanair, a 25.1% shareholder in Aer Lingus, for an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to be held on the planned cancellation of the Shannon-London Heathrow route.

There are seldom cost-free choices despite the wishes of politicians.

Peace in Ireland after an age of strife is quite marvel to behold.

The Irish Government has given support to the Northern Ireland Executive in its campaign to get the British government to lower the UK corporation tax for NI to the Republic's level of 12.5%. If there was an all-Ireland tax of 12.5%, isn't it conceivable that we would have aggro about projects lost to Northern Ireland?

The decision of Aer Lingus to open a base in Belfast would have been inconceivable a few years ago.

It is also a decision that is part of a peace dividend for the whole island but the likes of Willie O'Dea wish to have their cake and eat it.

O'Dea has compared Mannion to seventeenth century English leader Oliver Cromwell, the most hated Englishman in the history of Ireland. Abuse is easier than explaining where are the existing plans for an airport that is already depending on the temporary business from the transit of US troops for the Iraq War and is subject to loss of business from the EU/US Open Skies agreement?

As for the implications of his vote on privatisation, O'Dea does not have to explain anything.

The Cabinet members are on holidays this month of August but with the Houses of the Oireacthas only in session for about 90 days each year, the trick is to just ignore the media.

Irish politicians simply are seldom subjected to detailed questioning unless its via a public tribunal.

So with the spineless local politicians jumping on the Shannon bandwagon and the trade unions energised by the calamity howling from the West, what credible future can Aer Lingus have unless it stands firm?

The job description of the Irish TD in the Twenty-first Century

A Banjaxed System of Public Governance where the Buck Stops Nowhere

Reform Irish Style: Take action only in Response to a CRISIS...sorry...a DIRE CRISIS

IBEC calls planned strike by Aer Lingus pilots/shareholders cynical attempt by change-resistant union representing the most highly paid group in the airline

Ryanair announces additional routes from Shannon to London region if Aer Lingus does not back down on Heathrow; Requests Aer Lingus to call EGM

Aer Lingus pilots/shareholders want Republic of Ireland pay and conditions to apply at international bases