Now that I have had time to reflect on my contribution, I would like to clarify some matters and bring my contribution to a conclusion. A pertinent point was raised about the report the Minister said he received from the chief executive officer and the chairman of the board of Aer Lingus. I asked the Minister what was the nature of the report. I formed the impression, when I referred to a written report, that he nodded his head. Will the Minister confirm whether the report was a written one?
The kernel of this is to try to ensure the best future for Aer Lingus. Despite what the Minister has said, I do not believe it is necessary to privatise the company. The difficulty for me, the people working in the company and the public is that the Minister, as he said this afternoon, has not yet made up his mind. On the one hand, he is considering the matter and can be convinced one way or the other but, on the other hand, his stated objective is to propose the privatisation of Aer Lingus. According to media reports, the Minister believes this is the direction the company should go. He now says, however, he is pulling back from that position and is having the issue reviewed.
The Minister referred to a Mr. Hooper whom he has asked to provide a consultant's report on the various options that might be available to him. What riding instructions, to use racing parlance, did the Minister give to Mr. Hooper when he asked him to carry out this investigation? The Minister does not have a great record for implementing consultants' reports, particularly when they do not tally with what he wants. Two or three reports on Aer Rianta have been produced by eminent people who have recommended against the establishment of three separate companies or the privatisation of the company. The Minister disregarded the reports and sought other reports. This issue will come again before the Dáil for its consideration. What terms of reference did the Minister give Mr. Hooper? Is the Minister confirming that he has an open mind on Aer Lingus?
I support amendments Nos. 3, 4 and 6. It has not been proved that it is necessary to privatise Aer Lingus. The organisation has pulled itself up by its bootstraps to become an efficient organisation with a super management team. That team has done excellent work in pulling together the elements required to make the company a viable organisation that will go from strength to strength. It is already making significant profits and, hopefully, will make more in future. I hope everybody involved in this, including the board, will move to the next stage with an open mind and not be directed by the ideological attitude of the Minister and some of his colleagues in the Government.