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Ryanair and Mary Coughlan

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary has released a flurry of letters between himself and tanaiste Mary Coughlan that purport to chronicle how Government inaction ultimately cost Ireland 500 highly skilled jobs.

In the exchange last August published in The Sunday Independent, O’Leary claims that if Coughlan had been willing to act as mediator between Ryanair and the Dublin Airport Authority (which the airline refuses to have anything to do with), 500 aircraft maintenance jobs would have come to Dublin, instead of to Prestwick in Scotland.

The DAA owns Hangar 6, the former SRT Technics site, where O’Leary wanted to base Ryanair’s proposed maintenance facility.

“We are happy to negotiate directly with the IDA, or for that matter your office, but we will not enter direct discussions with the DAA,” O’Leary told the minister in a letter dated August 13, 2009.

Coughlan’s reply was conciliatory but succinct.

“It is simply not possible for IDA or my office to negotiate a commercial arrangement involving the property of a third party,” she replied.

Roll on seven months to last week’s announcement that Ryanair would be building a €10m maintenance hangar in Scotland and creating 200 jobs there. A similar facility is being promised in another European country later this year.

O’Leary’s final letter dated February 10, 2010 informing the minister of this move is typically forthright.

“I can think of no other example where one of the world’s leading companies would offer the Irish Government up to 500 well-paid jobs and a multi-million euro investment in Ireland only to be greeted with inaction and indifference by our Enterprise Minister and our Transport Minister.”

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