Charities in the money as Aer Lingus seeks to shift blame for PR disaster of its own making
Two of Ireland's most deserving charities have received a welcome pre-Christmas boost after Aer Lingus donated money to make up for its accusations that some of its staff were stealing from passengers, colleagues and the airline. But despite being forced into an apology of sorts after a stormy meeting with trade unions - at which management's actions were heavily criticised - the carrier was still attempting this weekend to pass the blame for its own PR disaster. In an unprecedented move, Aer Lingus is to pay €25,000 to Pieta House and Focus Ireland to placate staff outraged about an internal memo penned by chief operating officer Mike Rutter in which he wrote that law enforcement had been brought into the airline "as guest property and company stock losses remain at levels significantly above the industry norms". In a 'shoot the messenger'- style press release last Friday worthy of Donald Trump's White House, management claimed that reporting of the memo by the Sunday Independent had been "misleading", despite the fact that last Sunday's article and headline were entirely based on the content of Rutter's memo and that the airline had not subsequently raised any direct concerns with this newspaper. But within hours of releasing a grovelling and disingenuous statement to the wider media, the carrier had already backtracked even further. "I believe he'd got the kicking he deserved," Ennis told the meeting, according to sources. But the Siptu leadership also faced intense criticism itself from shop stewards and airport workers as to why it had responded so meekly when Rutter first issued the controversial memo in November, which had followed earlier accusations by management that some staff were interfering with company equipment at Dublin Airport. When the Rutter memo was first released to staff, Siptu privately voiced concern to Aer Lingus over the CCTV and random search threat it contained. But shop stewards and staff told the union they were angry Siptu had not defended them publicly by challenging Rutter's theft claims when he first issued them.