The Deputy's questions relate to the future of the Government's shareholding in Aer Lingus.
It is important to point out that the State's shareholding does not allow it to interfere in any way in the day-to-day commercial operations of the company and while the State has three Directors on the board, these Directors have fiduciary responsibilities to act in the best interests of the company.
In terms of State asset disposals, two Working Groups were established by the Government in 2011, one to consider the best approach in progressing the proposed part-sale of ESB and the other to undertake a similar analysis of a number of other State assets identified by Government as potential candidates for disposal. The State's remaining 25% shareholding in Aer Lingus was considered as part of this group of assets. Both of these Working Groups completed their work in 2011 and reported to Ministers in December 2011. NewERA was centrally involved in this process together with all relevant Departments including my Department. It was on the basis of the analysis undertaken by these two Working Groups that the Government agreed to the list of asset disposals announced on 22nd February.
In relation to Aer Lingus, the Government considers that the State's remaining shareholding in the company is no longer a strategic asset as it does not enable the Government to determine Aer Lingus policy on issues such as the use of the airline's landing slots at Heathrow. Accordingly, the Government has decided that the State's remaining shareholding in Aer Lingus will be sold at an appropriate time, when market conditions are favourable and at an acceptable price that is agreed by Government.
My Department along with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and NewERA is working to examine the potential options for the disposal of the State's stake and the issues that may need to be addressed in the context of the disposal of the stake. The Minister for Public Enterprise and I will consider any and all expressions of interest that may be received for the stake.