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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 February 2008, 16:26 GMT
Airline criticised over Irish ban
Aer Lingus plane
Aer Lingus has been criticised over the Irish ban
Aer Lingus has come under fire from Ireland's prime minister after banning staff from using Irish during in-flight announcements on its Belfast route.

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern criticised the airline during a debate on the subject in the Republic's parliament, (Dail).

He said Aer Lingus was still the Irish national airline and "a few sentences (in Irish) wouldn't hurt anyone".

Mr Ahern said despite the government being a shareholder in the carrier, they had no role in the matter.

He was responding to Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, who had asked if the Irish government had been informed of the decision, and commented it still owned 23% of the company.

Mr Ahern pointed out that during north-south talks those who were fluent in Irish used that language without anyone objecting, while even those who are not fluent use the 'cupla focal' (couple of words).

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