Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Peace Pays A Dividend

The engine fell off the model airplane that Aer Lingus' CEO Dermot Mannion was holding, to his great embarrassment. No matter to Ian Paisley, however, because he was reaping a dividend from the peace that has taken hold in the north of Ireland. Smiling broadly, thinking of the credit he would garner for the jobs and assorted benefits, did Mr. Paisley notice the bright green shamrock on the tail of the plastic prop?

To the detriment of the staff at Shannon Airport, Aer Lingus has decided to eliminate service from Shannon to London, and move the planes up to Belfast. The airline of Ireland is going to operate out of Ireland's second largest city. The folks up in Ulster, the border cities and Donegal, will find it easier to fly Aer Lingus, while those who work at Shannon will lose their jobs. One part of the island moves ahead, the other falls further behind.

The trade union is considering some sort of gesture of protest, as well they should. They represent those who are about to get sacked, and one would expect the union to do something. Any action taken by the union will of course be futile, as Aer Lingus has every intention of making the move because the move will generate more profits for the company. It would be up to the government to take concrete action, to force Aer Lingus to continue flying out of Shannon, even in a reduced capacity. Hard to imagine that they would not not, considering the number of voters that will be hurt by the departure of Aer Lingus.

Businesses in the west of Ireland are up in arms over the loss of flights from Shannon because it will make it more difficult for them to do business. The hospitality industry, already struggling to bring in tourists to the rest of the country that is not Dublin, see the demise of Aer Lingus flights as a near death sentence. If the visitors can't be dropped off at the door, will they even bother to travel across the country to see the Cliffs of Moher and the Ring of Kerry?

For the people in the six counties that make up Northern Ireland, the presence of Aer Lingus, with green shamrocks festooned on every tail, means that they are more a part of the Republic than ever before. Less isolated, less British, and more unified Ireland-ish. Ian Paisley applauds the introduction of jobs, taking credit for improving things for his followers, but will he one day look back and realize that the Republic took over, not by guns and violence, but by stealth and the lure of euros?

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