‘Get back in a room and sort this out’: Taoiseach calls on Aer Lingus pilots to return to talks

Tánaiste Micheál Martin dismisses calls for intervention

Michael Martin was responding in the Dáil to Sinn Féin enterprise spokeswoman Louise O’Reilly who said time was running out to resolve the dispute before airline pilots begin a work to rule next Wednesday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

Tánaiste Micheál Martin has dismissed a Sinn Féin call for Government intervention in the Aer Lingus industrial relations dispute and insisted that it can only be resolved through the industrial relations machinery of the State.

He appealed to the disputing parties to get back into talks to resolve the dispute.

“I would urge both sides now in the interests of the people of this country, to get around the table and to hammer out a resolution and a decision. That’s the only way that this can be done,” he said.

Separately Taoiseach Simon Harris said that “people need to step back from the brink”.


“ ‘The idea that passengers, children due to go on their summer holidays, would be used as pawns in an industrial relations dispute that has already been considered by the labour court is utterly reprehensible and people need to step back from the brink,” he said.

“What can government do? Well, government already does quite a lot because government makes available the industrial relations mechanisms of the state, and I would absolutely encourage people to utilise them. A

“So get back in a room and sort this out is my very clear message,” he added, while attending the citizenship ceremony at The Convention Centre.

Mr Martin meanwhile was responding in the Dáil to Sinn Féin enterprise spokeswoman Louise O’Reilly who said time was running out to resolve the dispute before airline pilots begin a work to rule next Wednesday.

“We cannot underestimate the impacts that the uncertainty is having, particularly for those considering traveling to Ireland for a holiday this summer,” she said, adding that the tourism sector was still recovering from the pandemic.

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There were “tens of thousands of workers and families who have saved hard for their annual holiday and who are worried sick that they won’t be able to travel”.

Ms O’Reilly, a former Siptu trade union organiser, said the Government had a role to play. “The State’s industrial relations mechanisms believe that the sides are too far apart to engage and try to seek a resolution to the dispute at this time. It is therefore incumbent on Government to do so.”

She said: “I understand well that we will not resolve this dispute here on the floor of the Dáil. But I also know when a high-level intervention is required, and this is one of those times.”

Ms O’Reilly called for the Minister for Enterprise Peter Burke and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan “to engage in a constructive manner to get all sides around the table”, given the seriousness of the dispute for families and the wider economy.

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But the Tánaiste told her: “You said it yourself. This dispute cannot be resolved to the floor of this House.”

Mr Martin said that Ms O’Reilly had invoked her experience in industrial relations. “I agree 100 per cent that this is creating unacceptable anxiety to many, many families and it needs to be resolved.”

But he said “the Deputy knows full well that the only way that this will get resolved is either in the WRC or in the Labour Court, but essentially it has to be resolved within the industrial relations machinery.”

Mr Martin said “air connectivity is the lifeblood of an island nation. And that is why every effort must be made to resolve this and it is vital that both parties to this dispute act responsibly.”

He said “we have a sophisticated industrial relations system in this country. The Workplace Relations Commission and the Labour Court remain available to the parties to facilitate engagement and that is the framework ultimately within which this matter can be resolved.”

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times