Transport Minister Eamon Ryan has accused Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary of being “personally abusive”, after he called the Green minister “incompetent” and an “idiot”.
The Ryanair boss also called on Mr Ryan to resign over the Green Party’s opposition to raising the cap on passenger numbers at Dublin Airport.
A number of Green Party TDs, including junior ministers and MEPs, raised objections to the lifting of the 32 million passenger cap.
Dublin Airport has submitted an application to Fingal County Council to expand its capacity to 40 million passengers per annum.
Green Party politicians have questioned the proposals, including Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman.
When Mr O’Leary was asked about the passenger cap last week, he told RTE radio that Mr Ryan is “incompetent”.
He also warned that if Dublin Airport is prevented from expanding its passenger numbers, this will lead to higher costs for travellers.
Mr O’Leary told RTE radio that Transport Minister Eamon Ryan is “incompetent” and “does not want to touch Dublin Airport”.
Calling on the minister to resign, Mr O’Leary said the Green party leader was effectively blocking the expansion of the airport.
Asked about the comments, Mr Ryan said: “I did listen back because it was very personally abusive and to be honest I had to listen back to hear what was he saying.
“I do want to set out some of the issues but not specifically on the cap as I do have to be careful as Minister for Transport. That will be decided by Fingal County Council first of all and by An Bord Pleanala and I think it’s absolutely right that my colleagues, our local councillors, Green party politicians and others have raised some of the concerns they have.”
Asked if he agrees with the concerns, Mr Ryan said: “Yes, there are concerns about noise levels and everyone knows that around the airport. There are concerns about regional development.
“We all know we are very lopsided in the country. All the development that is happening in Dublin, we need to see it happening in Shannon and Cork and elsewhere.
“The really big issue here is the issue around climate change, in my mind. We are in a day when the European Commission is going to be coming out setting the European target for 2040, which is a dramatic reduction, a 90% reduction in emissions.
“There is a real issue in aviation as to how we do that.”
He said that the aviation industry will have to play its part in reducing emissions.
The Green party leader said that we have to move away from “putting all the blame and shame” on individuals.
“I don’t think politically and policy wise, we will address this by turning into a moral imperative that forces people to fly or not fly,” he added.
“The scale of change we need to make is based on the science, which is so clear, and everyone needs to play (their) part.”
He said that the aviation sector, including Ryanair, recognises there is a problem and has committed to being net zero by 2050.
The minister said this can be done through the use of biofuels and e-fuels.
“That is the way we will have to be decarbonise aviation – it is very complicated and it is only starting, but it will force the aviation industry and mandates to adopt those fuels and that is the way we can move forward,” he added.
Ryanair has been contacted for comment.