Clare Deputy Michael McNamara hopes to run for the Labour Party in the next General Election, despite his expulsion from the parliamentary party.
The East Clare TD was the only Coalition deputy to vote against the proposed sale of the State’s 25.1 per cent stake in Aer Lingus to International Airlines Group (IAG) on Thursday.
The barrister and part-time farmer remains a member of the Labour Party and says he will still support Labour Party policies during future Dáil votes.
He still wants to run as a Labour candidate in Clare at the next General Election, if he is selected at the party’s selection convention.
However, if he doesn’t secure a place on the Labour Party ticket, he wouldn’t rule out running as an independent candidate.
The Aer Lingus motion passed by 74 votes to 51 with Fianna Fáil, Sinn Féin and most other opposition deputies opposing the sale.
McNamara was the only government deputy to vote down the motion as he felt the inclusion of a so-called golden share allowing the Finance Minister to block any future disposal of the crucial Shannon to Heathrow slots was unenforceable.
It’s the third time he has voted against the government in the last two years, having broken ranks on a bill he introduced to allow gardaí and the defence forces to hold formal negotiations on pay and conditions and another one concerning the Protection of Life Bill and fatal foetal abnormality.
Deputy McNamara also rejects suggestions he voted against the Government to boost his re-election chances as he didn’t choose the timing of this vote.
“I reject this suggestion. I didn’t campaign on many issues in the last General Election.
“I said I would work for the betterment of Shannon Airport. Government policies have been successful up to now and a large part of this credit must go to the management and workers at the airport,” he said.
“Connectivity is key for Shannon Airport and the Mid-West region. I didn’t decide to sell Aer Lingus and I didn’t decide to table a vote a few months before a General Election.
“I took a fairly clear position at a very early stage even before last Christmas that I would have serious concerns about protecting connectivity for Shannon in the event of an Aer Lingus sale.
“Given that it will be six months to a year before this deal will be concluded, I have no idea why the Dáil was asked to vote for it now,” he added.
“I did not want to vote for something knowing it was a facade. When deputies voted for the privatisation of Irish Sugar, they had no idea they guarantees they got were totally unenforceable.
“I hope these guarantees will never have to be called in. I believe if they are called in, they are not enforceable.
“It would be dishonest of me to go back to workers in Shannon and the Shannon region and say we had this wonderful guarantee in relation to connectivity if I thought it was unenforceable.
“I accept competition law is highly political and this is a political issue. When these guarantees were called in the past, they proved to be worthless.
“I intend to live in Clare long after I am no longer a TD for Clare whenever that comes to an end,” he explained.
He has to leave his current Dáil office and relocate to another one that isn’t as accessible and is no longer a member of parliamentary committees.
“I never sensed any enthusiasm or appetite in the Labour Party at any level for the sale of the Government’s 25.1 % share in Aer Lingus,” he said.
Asked if this was the price that a smaller party paid in a coalition with a larger party, he stressed Labour had to get its way sometimes on important issues.