I would refer the Deputies to my replies of 16 May and 27 June 1990, in which I pointed out, inter alia, that an accounting investigation into the reported discrepancies at Aer Lingus Holidays Limited had been carried out by a major chartered accountancy firm, Craig Gardner, who furnished their report both to me and to the Board of Aer Lingus. I also pointed out that the report had been referred by me to the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána for investigation.
All the appropriate measures to ensure that this matter is thoroughly investigated have already been taken by me. Craig Gardner have fully investigated the matter; their report has been referred to the Garda Commissioner and I have instructed the Board of Aer Lingus to take disciplinary and legal action where necessary. As I have already made clear in my reply of 27 June, it would be unnecessary duplication to have departmental officials carry out a further investigation.
For legal reasons, I do not wish to comment on the report to which Deputy Allen has referred.
The Chairman of Aer Lingus has confirmed to me that a comprehensive action programme has been implemented to strengthen financial controls within the Aer Lingus group. The finance function at head office and in the subsidiaries has been re-organised in a manner appropriate to a multinational, diversified group. Seven new senior finance appointments have been made, a number of which involve people externally recruited. There have also been changes in the information systems, including appropriate redesign of the content and timing of management information. In parallel, steps have been taken to strengthen substantially the group's corporate legal function.
Negotiations are at an advanced stage for the sale of a number of different businesses in which Aer Lingus Holidays were engaged. Until all contractual matters relating to these sales are completed, it is not possible to be definitive as to what numbers of existing Aer Lingus Holidays employees will be re-employed by the new owners of those businesses. There are, however, indications that some of the new owners will offer employment to a number of the existing staff. In other cases I understand that redundancy terms have been negotiated and accepted by the staff concerned.