Green Party Leader says United Airlines decision presents huge opportunity

Green Party Leader Steven Agnew MLA has today, 4th November 2016, reacted to the news that United Airlines are to stop flights from Belfast International Airport after a proposed subsidy from the Northern Ireland Executive was found to breach EU state aid rules.

Steven Agnew MLA said: “I have consistently challenged the Minister for Economy to reveal the evidence that he used in deciding to allocate this money to United Airlines in the first place. Every time he has been unable to give a satisfactory answer. Now that he has also been knocked back by the European Union, it is evident that he didn’t even bother to check whether he was allowed to do it, let alone complete an economic appraisal for it.

“Maybe in future the Minister will consider the need for proper due process to ensure that money is being spent on things that it can actually be spent on, and that will actually have a benefit to society as a whole.

“This decision presents us with a huge opportunity, as the money can now be used on other projects which have a much greater benefit on ordinary people’s lives. Proposing to give the money to a large multinational airline was a vanity project from the very start, and it has now been shown to break the rules too.

“A few people may be slightly inconvenienced by having to travel a few hours down to Dublin to get a flight to New York; but if the money is now spent on better public services for everybody, such as early years’ education provision, I’m sure far more people will be happy and the money will go a lot further in the long run.”

ENDS

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