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Mediation talks between Ryanair and trade union under way

Update 3.39pm: Talks aimed at resolving the long-running dispute between Ryanair and its Irish pilots have got under way.

The budget airline and Forsa, which has been representing the Irish pilots, are attempting to seek a resolution over pay and conditions under mediator Kieran Mulvey.

Mr Mulvey, the former head of the Workplace Relations Committee, has set aside three days for the negotiations.

The dispute resulted in a fifth day of strike action on Friday.

About 100 of Ryanair’s 350 Irish-based pilots joined colleagues in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Sweden in a series of strikes.

The airline said 396 flights were cancelled as a result, disrupting thousands of passengers.

A spokesman for Forsa said Mr Mulvey had asked both parties to refrain from public comment while the process is under way.

A Ryanair spokesman said mediation was required after five strikes failed to achieve “anything other than to regrettably disrupt some customers”.

He added 95% of the airline’s flights and the majority of its pilots had operated on those days.

“Mediation should ensure Forsa takes control of their side of the process, take these negotiations more seriously and remove unwanted interference,” the spokesman said.

“Talks, not strikes, will move this forward and allow Ryanair to make the same progress we are making with other unions elsewhere in Europe.”

Forsa has not served notice of further strike action while the process of mediation is under way.

Union representative Bernard Harbor told RTE Radio One’s Morning Ireland programme that there was a lot of ground to be made up and a lot of time had been wasted.

- Press Association

Earlier: Ryanair: We are closer to a resolution than union are saying

Update 6.37am: Talks aimed at the resolving the Ryanair dispute begin this morning.

The industrial action by pilots has so far seen five strike days forcing the cancellation of more than 100 flights.

Over the past month, thousands of Ryanair passengers have had their travel plans thrown up in the air because of this dispute.

Around a quarter of Irish based pilots are unhappy with their working conditions.

This morning Kieran Mulvey, the former head of the Workplace Relations Commission, will try and break the deadlock between both sides:

Bernard Harbour from the FORSA trade union – which represents the pilots – is optimistic.

He said: "This isn't the hardest problem we've ever seen in industrial relations, it can be resolved, so let's get down to business and try and do that."

Ryanair says it too wants to see a deal reached at the talks which get underway this morning.

Kenny Jacobs from Ryanair says it is in the airline's best interest to end the dispute.

Mr Jacobs said: "We hope that we quickly conclude the negotiation because we think we are closer than FORSA are indicating to the media.

"We want a resolution in place that means that there will be no more strikes here."

- Digital Desk