Donie’s Ireland daily news BLOG

Wednesday 11th November 2015

Low taxes alone are not enough for growth in Ireland,

Says the OECD

Chief economist says clampdown on tax avoidance will be ‘negative for Ireland’

    

The chief economist  of the OECD Catherine Mann says Irish-owned enterprises lag behind their foreign counterparts.

Ireland will have to sell itself as more than just a low-tax destination in the new era of global tax transparency, OECD chief economist Catherine Mann has said.

She said moves to better align taxable profits with real economic activity envisaged under the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (Beps) initiative would be a “negative for Ireland”, at least initially.

This was because of the large number of multinationals based here for tax planning purposes, she said.

“[In the future] Ireland is going to have to seek real investment based on comparative advantages other than tax,” Prof Mann told a conference on tax policy hosted by theDepartment of Finance.

Ireland has been at the centre of controversy over multinational tax because of the aggressive strategies used by companies such as Apple and Google.

The final package of measures proposed by the OECD as part of its Beps project will be presented to G20 leaders in Turkey this weekend. They are designed to improve transparency, close loopholes and restrict the use of tax havens.

Lagging behind

“Global capital has come into Ireland – and that’s a good thing – but somehow it hasn’t translated into Irish-owned firms,” Prof Mann said.

She said Irish-owned enterprises lagged behind their foreign counterparts across a range of productivity metrics, most notably research and development.

“The patents are here, but they’re not being linked into the domestic economy, not being levered up by domestic firms or married to domestic workers.”

Despite housing some of the most innovative firms in the world, Ireland has one of the lowest domestic spends on R&D in the EU.

The Government was going to have to tune its tax system to boost productivity and deepen the relationship between intellectual property and the domestic economy, she said, noting the proposed patent box could play a significant role.

She said the OECD’s latest productivity report pinpointed a major skills mismatch in Ireland, with a lot of workers overqualified for the current jobs.

This was most likely a legacy of the downturn, she said, which made workers less likely to move due to the uncertain economic environment.

‘Gun-for-hire culture’ now in Dublin, A parliamentary watchdog told.

      

Dissident republicans are hiring out their guns to anyone who wants to carry out a murder for as little as 200 euro a go, a parliamentary watchdog has heard.

Independent TD Noel Grealish said he was also aware of anti-peace process factions based in Dublin renting out powerful Uzi submachine guns, complete with ammunition, for 500 euro a time.

Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan said she was aware of the availability of deadly weapons but “not to that extent”.

Before the Oireachtas Justice Committee, Mr Grealish quizzed the Garda chief about what he branded a gun-for-hire culture in the capital.

“I’m aware and I’ve been told that in the streets of Dublin you can hire a gun for 200 euro, or you can hire an Uzi machine gun for 500 euro, with a magazine of bullets, from, I’ve been told, dissident republicans,” the Galway West TD said.

“There is a gun-for-hire culture now within the city.

“If you want to go and shoot somebody, there’s someone there to hire a gun to you, to carry out a murder, technically – what else would you do with a gun.”

But Ms O’Sullivan said she was “not aware” of the alleged dissident republican gun hire enterprise.

“I’m certainly aware of the availability of firearms but not to that extent,” she said.

The Garda chief said her force carefully monitored the availability of illegal firearms throughout the State.

More than 500 guns have been seized already this year.

The weaponry recovered has included high powered firearms such as AK-47 assault rifles and sub machine guns.

Drugs with an estimated street value of 40 million euro have also been recovered so far this year.

“Thankfully there has been significant reduction in gangland activity, we remain focused on it, but I’m not aware of what the deputy (Grealish) said,” the Garda Commissioner added.

Ms O’Sullivan also said she was satisfied with the resources available to her to monitor and tackle organised crime, including a nexus between dissident republicans and gangland figures.

Landlord group IPOA criticises our new ‘rent controls’

Legislation may be unconstitutional, says Irish Property Owners’ Association

   

The IPOA has accused the Government of abdicating its responsibilities towards people who need social housing by attacking a soft target instead.

An umbrella group for Irish landlords has condemned proposed legislation aimed a freezing residential rent prices for periods of two years.

The Irish Property Owners’ Association (IPOA) has accused the Government of abdicating its responsibilities towards people who need social housing by attacking a soft target instead.

The association claimed Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly was unfairly targeting landlords, many of whom were still mired in negative equity and struggling to keep their heads above water.

It warned that what it described as “rent controls” would push more landlords out of the sector and said it was seeking legal advice about the steps it would take.

The IPOA, which was set up in 1993 as a not-for-profit organisation, has about 5,000 registered members or just more than 3 per cent of the 160,000 landlords in the State.

Buy-to-let investments.

Landlords who own a single property pay a joining fee of €125 and an annual fee of €85, while those who own more than one property pay an initial fee of €225 after which the annual fee is €175.

Most of its members rented out solitary properties, while many were in mortgage arrears and losing money on their buy-to-let investments, the association said. It has a small staff working in a premises on the Navan Road, Dublin. Its chairman is auctioneerStephen Faughnan, who is also a director, the other being John Dolan.

Margaret McCormick, the association’s information officer, toldThe Irish Times the new law, designed to strengthen tenants’ rights, may be unconstitutional on the grounds it took from one group and gave to another without providing compensation.

A housing shortage?

“Rather than supporting landlords and helping them to provide accommodation which would make sense, it is targeting them,” she said. “Landlords in the residential property sector are not able to write off their full mortgage repayments or other ongoing costs unlike landlords in the commercial sector which suggests that providing homes is less important to the Government than targeting investors.”

She said 70 per cent of landlords had mortgages on the properties they were renting out, with a similar number saying the annual rental income was less than the annual outgoings. She said that while the private rental sector had a role to play in resolving the current crisis, it was not to blame for it.

“We are not responsible for the housing shortage in Ireland, the Government is. People who need access to social housing should have access to social housing, but there is a lack of supply and that is the fault of Government.”

Ms McCormick said any potential legal challenge to the legislation “would be extremely costly because you have all the might of the State against you”. She said that while the association was taking legal advice, “there can be no talk of legal action until we have the legislation”.

She also conceded that public opinion was not on landlords’ side.

Mountjoy Prison lockdown lifted following false alarm

‘A suspicious item’ was found on C wing but it was determined not to be part of a weapon

  

Mountjoy Prison was placed under lockdown for a period on Wednesday after a “suspicious item” was discovered.

In a statement, the Irish Prison Service confirmed “a suspicious item was discovered on the C wing of Mountjoy Prison” at approximately 12.30pm.

Following an initial examination by prison staff and Gardaí it was suspected the item may be part of a firearm containing a number of bullets.

“As a result appropriate action was taken by the prison Governor and a general search of the prison was commenced,” said the statement.

The item was removed by the Garda for a forensic examination and it was subsequently determined that it was not part of a weapon.

It’s understood prisoners remained in lockdown for approximately an hour more than would be usual after lunch.

Irish entrepreneur Keren Jackson in final 3 for space mission

    

Keren Jackson speaking at the One Young World Summit 2014.

We will soon know whether Irish entrepreneur Keren Jackson will be the first Irish person in space having been included in the final three for a space mission due to launch in 2018.

22-year-old Keren Jackson is one of Ireland’s rising stars, to pardon the pun, as the CEO of the social enterprise company BlueFire, which helps host events and festivals in Dublin with the aim of creating greater community spirit among different cultures.

Having applied to the Kruger Cowne Rising Star Programme, Keren has managed to make it through hundreds of applications to make the final three, along with two other young innovators from the UK and Nigeria.

The trip aboard the XCOR Aerospace Lynx Spacecraft, which looks like a smaller version of the retired Space Shuttle, will fly the winning passenger into the outer reaches of Earth for a period of one hour at a height of 103km.

According to the Irish Independent, the eventual winner of the three finalists will be decided by a panel of judges, including Irishman Sir Bob Geldof, at the One Young World Summit held in Bangkok towards the end of this month.

The Kildare native has been trying to promote BlueFire worldwide, which she can achieve by winning the Rising Star programme and, writing on the Kruger Cowne website, she said: “Nobody’s journey is easy: mine certainly hasn’t been.

“I struggled through depression and an underlying belief that I’m not good enough: pushed through to pursue my dream in spite of having no contacts or work experience. I sacrificed a lot, even lived homeless. Through this I’ve learned that to overcome the 1,000 knocks life brings, you must sit still and listen to the great compass that is your own heart.”

5,000 year old settlement and tombs discovered on Sligo Leitrim border

  Staircase to Eagles Rock, at Truskmore.

The tomb at Carrowmore: Ancient tomb built 1,000ft up a mountain pre-dates the Egyptian pyramids back to 3500-BC. and right pic. Eagle’s Rock, where the discovered tomb was found while exploring the area above the landmark spot close to the Truskmore mast, 

A tomb found near the Tievebaun Mountain, on the Sligo Leitrim border, is believed to date back over 5,000 years, making it older than the pyramids at Giza in Egypt.

Michael Gibbons said discoveries in the area, including animal enclosures, field systems, and booley settlements used as temporary dwellings when people drove their cattle up the mountain to graze during the summer months, suggest a history spanning the Neolithic period, the iron age, the bronze age and the post-medieval period on these uplands.

Gibbons said the hilltop tomb, believed to date back to 3500 BC, was probably not discovered until now because of its dramatic location. He told the Irish Times this “dramatic spur would have been regarded as being on the edge of the world and at the entrance to another world.”

He discovered the tomb while exploring the area above the landmark, known as Eagle’s Rock, close to Truskmore mast, earlier this year.

He said, “This is a spectacular tomb. It was an incredible achievement to construct it here.”

The discovery of these ancient sites also challenges the widely held view that there were no significant upland prehistoric settlements in Leitrim. Last year a team led by Dr Marion O’Dowd discovered human remains in a cave on Knocknarea Mountain in County Sligo. They suggested that the Sligo/Leitrim uplands were settled 5500 years ago.

Knocknarea Mountain seen from Carrowmore tombs.  Knocknarea Mountain seen from Carrowmore tombs.

The settlers survived on a plateau 1,000 feet above today’s settlements. Gibbons said that their choice to live in this location was also a good indicator of climate change.

Gibbons pointed out, “Obviously it was a good deal warmer and drier in the early Neolithic period.”

The archaeologist said this was one of a series of hilltop tombs across the north west of Ireland, including Queen Maeve’s grave, on Knockrea. Her cairn tomb is believed to date to around 3000 BC. Maeve is a figure in Irish mythology who features in stories dating to the early first millennium.

Queen Maeve’s grave. Queen Maeve’s grave.

He said, “This one is a Neolithic tomb probably built 5,500 years ago as a communal burial area. It is a spectacular setting overlooking Donegal Bay, Slieve League, Lough Melvin and Glenade lake.”

Decades ago Gibbons worked on the excavation of the Carrowmore complex of megalithic tombs in County Sligo. This is one of the largest complexes of megalithic tombs in Ireland and is also among the oldest that used passage tombs, the earliest depositions having taken place in approximately 3700 BC..

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