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The airline, who are thought to be losing IR£2m a day, have laid off some 2000 staff. “This was not a collection which had been frequently added to and nurtured over the years,” said Mr de Vere White. Only two of the 25 paintings, which include works by Gerard Dillon, Louis le Brocquy, Jack Yeats and Nathaniel Hone, had been on display whilst the rest had been in storage.

With a total value of around IR£500,000, the sale of the collection will not solve Aer Lingus’s financial difficulties and is believed to be more of a gesture of “belt tightening” by the management.