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Dail votes to sell share in Aer Lingus

By Brian Hutton

Ireland's parliament has voted in favour of selling off the state's share in Aer Lingus as part of a €1.4bn (£1bn) takeover bid by British Airways owner International Airlines Group (IAG).

After two days of lively debate in the Dail, the coalition government easily clinched the majority backing it needed, clearing another hurdle for the controversial deal which has been trenchantly attacked by opposition parties.

One Government backbencher, junior coalition partner Labour's Michael McNamara, broke ranks to vote against the ruling parties after declaring his fears for the takeover. His Clare constituency is home to Shannon Airport.

But the vote to sell off the quarter stake was passed by 74 in favour to 51 against.

Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said the deal was in the best interests of Ireland at a time when many former state-owned airlines had been subsumed into larger groups or had collapsed.

IAG confirmed earlier yesterday that it would not up its offer for Aer Lingus amid speculation that major stakeholder Ryanair will play "hard ball" over the deal.

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