Council must reveal deal with Ryanair

Via the Press Association report. The Information Tribunal has given Derry City Council 30 days to reveal the details of the deal between the Council and RyanAir for the airline’s use of the rate-payer funded City of Derry Airport

The ruling by the Information Tribunal follows a two-year fight by airport owners Derry City Council against a Freedom of Information request.

From the PA report

The decision is being seen as precedent-setting and could have major implications for public bodies throughout the UK doing business with private enterprises.

Council chiefs refused to hand over details of how much Ryanair was paying for use of the ratepayer-funded airport when asked by a journalist in January 2005.

The case went before the Information Commissioner who ruled in February last after a year-long examination of the arguments the details must be disclosed.

The Council fought the decision in an appeal to the Information Tribunal which sat in Northern Ireland for the first time in October to hear the appeal.

In a 30-page ruling, the three-panel tribunal dismissed the appeal and has given the Council 30 days from yesterday to disclose the deal.

It said Freedom of Information Act exemptions claimed by the council did not apply and disagreed the local authority would be vulnerable to a claim for breach of confidence.

The council has until next month to appeal this decision to the High Court on a point of law.

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  • Eamonn McCann

    From the Socialist Environmental Alliance

    The council should accept the ruling and publish the material so that the people can make up their own minds whether the Ryanair deal is acceptable.

    The money committed in this deal was public money. The public has a right to know.

    Councillors are now trying to argue that there are positive aspects to the ruling from their point of view. They say that the Tribunal conceded that they had a case on the ground that publishing the material might inflict economic damage on the area. They say that this represents an advance on the Information Commissioner’s original decision. It does nothing of the kind.

    What the Information Commissioner said last February was that the council had presented no case on grounds of economic damage. It had simply made assertions. At the appeal in October, the council did present its case on grounds of economic damage. The Appeals Tribunal has now flatly rejected this case. To argue that this represents an advance for the council is laughable. The councillors are grasping at straws.

    The Appeals Tribunal has told the council in blunt terms that the Freedom of Information exemptions which it claimed do not, in fact, apply. Nobody who sat through the hearing at Derry Courthouse in October will be in any way surprised. It is worth noting that no councillor turned up for the hearings.

    A decision by the council to appeal the result to the High Court would mean spending more of the public’s money to keep the people in the dark about how their money is being spent. This is Alice in Wonderland stuff, and it all results from unthinking obedience to Ryanair’s demand for secrecy.

    All the other arguments are a smokescreen. Anyone who sat through the hearings or who reads through the documents will see that the council took its stand for secrecy because Ryanair told it to.

    In other circumstances, the parties involved, the SDLP, Sinn Fein and the DUP, talk of commitment to openness, transparency and accountability. Where are these fine words in the current case?

    The council has gotten itself into an undignified and untenable position.

    Meanwhile, the Donnybrewer Clearances continue. The council is pressuring people out of their homes along Donnybrewer Road to facilitate a runway development. Whatever councillors or airport management say, this project, too, was undertaken at Ryanair’s demand.

    Havn’t Derry City councillors done enough for Ryanair already?

    There doesn’t seem to be a single SDLP, Sinn Fein or DUP councillor who will stand up to Ryanair and support the people’s right to know? Mary Hamilton of the Ulster Unionists appears to be the only independent spirit in the council chamber. What an irony.

    Eamonn McCann

  • Yokel

    Whos paying who here?

  • darth rumsfeld

    hats up to Eamon for highlighting this. All double hats up to his e mail address- resistderry@aol.com.
    Eamon opposes the name change- who’d a thunk it!

  • JD

    As usual McCann can talk a good fight on this. Even Willy Hay was able to expose him.

    WH:Does Derry/ NW need an airport?
    EmcC: Yes absolutely.
    WH: Should be privately owned?
    EMcC: Absolutely not.
    WH: Should it run by Council?
    EMcC: No, too expensive.
    WH: What’s the solution?
    EMcC: Nationalise everything.

    McCann’s yer man.

    The SEA think they have a smoking gun which will demonstrate, once released, that Ryanair got an advantageous deal form DCC. I am reliably imformed they recieved nothing of the sort. But why let this get in the way of McCann speech.

  • Elvis Parker

    I know its panto season but anyhow – JD
    ‘I am reliably imformed they recieved nothing of the sort’
    Oh yes they did!

    Eamon went wrong on the first question – Dery does not need an airport – esp if the road to Toome was dualled

  • SDLP Voter

    I suppose we won’t need any jobs either – esp if the road to Toome was dualled.

  • nmc

    Absolutely SDLP V, no jobs allowed. The people of Derry are lucky to have McCann looking out for them, terrifying American IT companies away from the city and attempting to prevent progress in other areas.

    Maybe if he gets more than 6% of the vote next time he’ll consider illegally occupying more businesses in the city, preventing more jobs from staying/coming in/to Derry.

    That way the gulf between rich and poor will be decreased when everyone’s signing on. Go Eamonn. Please. Go now.

  • Pete Baker

    Before this discussion gets too far down an unrelated sidetrack…

    Perhaps a consideration on how to get accountable local government if Councils refuse to tell us what they’re doing, supposedly, on our behalf?