'See you in Doonbeg' - Enda's letter to tycoon Donald Trump
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has told billionaire Donald Trump that the Government is "very conscious" of his concerns surrounding the potential sale of the State's shareholding in Aer Lingus.
Mr Kenny said issues surrounding transatlantic links and connectivity via Heathrow airport are being closely considered as negotiations with International Airlines Group (IAG) enter their most critical phase.
Correspondence between the Taoiseach and Mr Trump was released under the Freedom of Information Act.
The Herald revealed last month that Mr Trump, who is considering a run for the White House, urged Mr Kenny not to sell the State's Aer Lingus shareholding.
He said retaining the stake would protect the country's tourism industry and links to foreign direct investment.
Significantly, Mr Trump indicated that protecting the Aer Lingus interest is important to his plans to further invest "many millions of dollars" in his hotel and golf resort in Doonbeg, Co Clare.
"Aer Lingus, like the Irish shamrock and Guinness, is essentially Irish with a strong national identity which is very important to your country," Mr Trump wrote.
"It should not be given away to the highest bidder."
Signing off his letter to the Apprentice star, Mr Kenny wrote: "See you in Doonbeg!"
In his communication, Mr Kenny moved to allay the US tycoon's concerns.
"As an island nation, aviation plays a crucial role in Ireland's economy," the Taoiseach wrote.
"We are critically dependent on good air connections with the rest of the world for tourism, trade and business.
"The Government is acutely aware of this vital role that overseas tourism plays in our economic recovery."
The Taoiseach also said that connectivity to and form Ireland is central to the Government's concerns.