Tuesday 3rd January 2017
Employment in IDA Irish backed firms reaches a record high
Almost 200,000 employed in multinationals but IDA warns of political uncertainty
Martin Shanahan, chief executive of IDA Ireland, with Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor: “That companies have continued to invest in Ireland is testament to the quality of the offering we have here,” he said.
IDA Ireland says the flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) into Ireland will remain strong in coming months after a record 2016, although the State enterprise agency warned against “complacency” over cost-competitiveness and potential threats in the global economy.
Employment in foreign multinationals backed by IDA reached a record high of almost 200,000 in 2016, with 244 investments during the year. This is up from a previous high of 213 in 2016.
At the publication of its annual statement on Tuesday, IDA said the number of investments from companies new to the Irish market went to 99 from 94 in 2016, with 11,842 additional jobs (net) created. Job losses were at their lowest level in 19 years.
In 2016, more than half (52%) of all jobs created by IDA clients were based outside Dublin. The mid-west experienced the fastest growth rate, of 10%, with some 1,500 jobs created during the year. The midlands fared the worst, with just 58 jobs created during the year.
Martin Shanahan, chief executive of the IDA, said he expected some US companies to delay investment announcements until details emerged of US president-elect Donald Trump’s trade policies.
He also said some London-based banks were close to choosing alternative locations, as Dublin fights to pick up business amid post-Brexit vote uncertainty.
Mr Shanahan said: “That companies have continued to invest in Ireland is testament to the quality of the offering we have here. That being said – we absolutely cannot be complacent about this success. We have to keep an eye on our competitiveness including costs.
“The contribution of the FDI sector has always been important to Ireland, but the 2016 results show that the contribution has never been greater. It is particularly welcome to see such a broad-based performance and all regions growing. International services, pharmaceuticals and medical devices and financial services all showed significant employment increases in 2016.”
On Brexit, the IDA said the UK’s planned departure from the European Union has led to “a significant volume of specific queries” to IDA offices from across the world, with Ireland among a small number of locations in Europe being considered. However the IDA also noted that Brexit brings with it some “adverse impacts”.
“FDI companies that depend heavily on the UK market have already been impacted by exchange rates and they may also need to consider their future access to the UK market in a post-Brexit environment.”
Looking ahead, Mr Shanahan said that “ongoing global political and economic uncertainty will continue to affect investor confidence in 2017”, while competition from other jurisdictions for FDI has “never been as strong”.
However, the outlook is still “promising”. “While there is significant uncertainty, the jobs pipeline for the first quarter of 2017 looks promising. In 2016, job losses within IDA client companies were at their lowest level since 1997. Given market turmoil, Brexit impacts and cost-competitiveness pressure, IDA does not expect this trend to continue,” Mr Shanahan said.
Irish property prices to rise by at least 8% this year 2017
Help-to-buy scheme will add ‘fuel to the fire’ and drive price rises, myhome.ie reports
Irish property prices are set to rise by at least 8% in 2017, with double-digit growth a ‘distinct possibility’.
Property prices are set to rise by at least 8% in 2017, with double-digit growth a “distinct possibility”, as today’s launch of the new help-to-buy scheme, plus looser mortgage lending rules and constrained supply drive price growth across the country.
The prediction comes in a report from myhome.ie, the property website, and Davy, the stockbroking firm, which says the help-to-buy scheme will add “fuel to the fire” in driving price growth.
The scheme, which opens for applications today (January 3rd), will give first-time buyers of new homes 5 per cent back on the cost of their property.
According to the Central Statistics Office, property prices rose by 7.1% in the year to October, while full-year calculations from estate agent Sherry FitzGerald, also published today, estimate that prices rose by 5.2% for 2016 as a whole, a moderate increase on the 4% recorded in 2015.
Prices in Dublin increased by 3.7% in 2016, compared to 1.4% in 2015, according to Sherry FitzGerald with growth of 7.4%, 10.1% and 6.9% respectively in Cork, Galway and Limerick.
Despite recent price growth, however, average values are still about 40% off peak 2006 levels.
Big fall in supply?
Predictions of an acceleration in house-price growth next year comes as the number of properties for sale across the country has fallen to a 10-year low.
New figures from Daft.ie, also published today, show just 21,700 properties for sale nationwide on the property portal in December 2016, the lowest since January 2007.
Myhome.ie reports a similar picture, with just 20,875 properties listed for sale on the site, down 7.7% from last year.
This suggests that just 1% of the Irish housing stock is currently listed for sale – a normally functioning market would typically boast turnover levels of 4%.
“The lack of liquidity is particularly acute in Dublin where there are just 3,619 properties listed for sale.
“This is down 20% on last year and means just 0.7% of Dublin’s housing stock of 535,000 properties is currently listed for sale,” says Angela Keegan, managing director of myhome.ie.
Trinity College Dublin economist and author of the Daft.ie report Ronan Lyons warns that demographic trends, housing obsolescence and migration means that close to 50,000 new properties are needed each year but just about 14,000 were built in 2016.
“Without this kind of supply, we will all have to spend more and more of our income just to have a home,” he warns.
With fewer homes for sale, transaction levels are also slumping. While the full figures for Q4 are not yet available from the property register, early returns suggest a sharp fall in transactions in the final quarter of 2016, with sales down by 12% on the year, according to Daft.ie.
But the decline may also be due to the imminent arrival of the new help-to-buy scheme, as prospective purchasers postponed their decisions.
Asking prices rise.
The latest survey from Daft.ie for the fourth quarter of 2016 shows that asking prices across the country rose by 8% in the year, with prices continuing to rise at a faster rate outside the capital.
Asking prices in Dublin were 5% higher than in 2015, but in Cork, Galway and Kilkenny, inflation exceeded 10%, although the rate of growth has fallen since 2014.
The figures mean that the average national asking price has risen 34.3% or just over € 56,000 – since the property market reached its nadir in the third quarter of 2013.
In Dublin, however, the bottom was reached in the second quarter of 2012 and prices have risen by an average of 46.2% or €101,850 since that time.
In Limerick, prices have risen by 39% in the city (and by 19% in the county) since its low in 2014.
According to myhome.ie, while asking prices on new instructions fell by more than 2% in the fourth quarter, bringing the mix adjusted asking price for new sales nationally to €227,000 – prices on their site are still up 5.5% year on year.
In Dublin, the average asking prices for a newly listed property remained unchanged at €328,000, but this is still up 4.9% year on year, according to myhome.ie.
Flu, respiratory illness, and the winter vomiting bug on the rise in Ireland
Ireland is under the weather at the moment
HSE Hospitals across IRELAND have reported a significant increase in the number of cases of winter-related illnesses, including influenza, respiratory illness and the winter vomiting bug.
The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC), which monitors the spread of infectious diseases, says that there has been a tripling in the numbers of people with norovirus (winter vomiting bug) over the past five weeks.
The HSPC also warned that this escalation is expected to continue until at least the end of February.
Minister for Health Simon Harris has described the outbreak of the infections as “a very challenging period of time” for Ireland’s health service.
The HSE has asked people with symptoms of the winter vomiting bug not to visit or attend hospitals or GP surgeries.
“This bug, while often unpleasant, rarely causes serious problems for otherwise healthy children and adults,” the HSE said in a statement.
It can, however, “be a serious problem in hospitals and residential facilities where it can lead to ward closures, postponed operations, and worryingly, can result in very serious illness for patients in hospital who are already weakened by other medical conditions.”
The comments were echoed by Minister Harris, who warned against spreading the flu:
We all as citizens have a role to play in terms of doing everything we possibly can to minimise the spread of what is a very significant outbreak of flu.
The HSE confirmed that there have been 21 outbreaks of flu and respiratory infections in healthcare settings such as hospitals, residential centres and nursing homes so far, this season, and a significant increase in people aged 75 and older seeking treatment.
All hospitals around the country have put in place contingency measures to manage the increased number of patients coming to Emergency Departments, with the HSE saying that the spike in demand is expected to continue over the coming weeks.
The HSE has urged at-risk people to get the flu vaccination as soon as possible.
“The winter tends to be a difficult period for the health service, and that is why we have put significant resources [into dealing with it] but the particular challenges we’re experiencing now are not just the challenges of a normal winter,”Minister Harris said at a press conference this afternoon.
The minister said that there has been almost a 20% increase in the number of people over the age of 75 attending Emergency Departments over this Christmas period compared to last year.
The HSPC said the increase in the winter vomiting bug has been due to new strains of the infection being reported in Ireland, which the population is not immune to.
The HSE’s ‘Winter Initiative’ has seen at least €15 million spent in recent months to deal with the increased demand for the health service, particularly in ensuring that people are discharged from beds once they have recovered from their illness.
Irish Scientists identify a new organ in Humans & it’s official
Dr. J. Calvin Coffey above right pic, a professor of surgery at the University of Limerick in Ireland, has concluded that the mesentery, which is a membrane found in the gut, is in its own an organ.
A mighty membrane that twists and turns through the gut is starting the new year with a new classification: the structure, called the mesentery, has been upgraded to an organ.
Scientists have known about the structure, which connects a person’s small and large intestines to the abdominal wall and anchors them in place, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, until now, it was thought of as a number of distinct membranes by most scientists. Interestingly, in one of its earliest descriptions, none other than Leonardo da Vinci identified the membranes as a single structure, according to a recent review.
In the review, lead author Dr. Calvin Coffey, a professor of surgery at the University of Limerick’s Graduate Entry Medical School in Ireland, and colleagues looked at past studies and literature on the mesentery. Coffey noted that throughout the 20th century, anatomy books have described the mesentery as a series of fragmented membranes; in other words, different mesenteries were associated with different parts of the intestines. [6 Strange Things the Government Knows About Your Body]
More recent studies looking at the mesentery in patients undergoing colorectal surgery and in cadavers led Coffey’s team to conclude that the membrane is its own, continuous organ, according to the review, which was published in November in the journal The Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
What’s in a name?
The reclassification of the mesentery as an organ “is relevant universally as it affects all of us,” Coffey said in a statement.
By recognizing the anatomy and the structure of the mesentery, scientists can now focus on learning more about how the organ functions, Coffey said. In addition, they can also learn about diseases associated with the mesentery, he added.
“If you understand the function, you can identify abnormal function, and then you have disease,” Coffey said.
The continuous nature of the mesentery, for example, may serve as a means for disease to spread from one part of the abdomen to another, according to the review.
In addition to studying disease, researchers may also look to the mesentery for new approaches to surgery, the authors said in the review.
More questions need answers
The authors noted in the review that many anatomical and other features of the mesentery still need to be described.
For instance, what body system should the mesentery be classified in? “Whether the mesentery should be viewed as part of the intestinal, vascular, endocrine, cardiovascular or immunological systems is so far unclear, as it has important roles in all of them,” the authors wrote.
While many organs have distinct functions in the body, the mesentery’s distinct function is still unknown, according to the review.
Venus is looking stunningly bright next to the moon right now and here’s why
The second rock from the sun has been even brighter than normal and it’s not too late to catch a glimpse.
Those with their eyes on the skies have been noticing that Venus, the second rock from the sun, has been even more stunning than normal recently.
Venus is always one of the brightest lights in our night skies but in recent days it has been especially luminous.
All over the country, people have been posting pictures on social media of Venus below the crescent moon. Particularly sharp-eyed observers could also see a ruddy red Mars close to the moon.
We answer some questions that people have been asking.
Have I missed it?
Not necessarily. Like yesterday, Venus will remain very bright tonight but unfortunately it could be obscured by cloud cover.
If there is a break in the cloud, the best time to see it will be in the hours just after sunset as Venus sets about four hours after the Sun this month.
Early January 2017 is a great time to see Venus. According to the Beckstrom Observatory, it will reach its peak height above the horizon this month.
It will also see the distance between Venus and Mars get smaller as Venus gets higher each night.
Why is Venus so bright?
Venus is the brightest of all the planets visible in the skies above Earth due to a highly reflective acidic atmosphere.
Over the last billion years Venus’ atmosphere has become incredibly thick. Scientists believe that this is because of a runaway greenhouse effect.
And with the atmosphere being so dense, it reflects 70 per cent of the sunlight that reaches it.
In comparison, the moon only reflects 10 per cent of the light that hits it. However, due to its close proximity to earth, the moon appears brighter than Venus to us.
Can I see Mars?
Yes! Mars was bright red in the sky in May and June last year but is no longer as bright. However, you can still see it with the naked eye, with it appearing a ruddy red colour.
As the Red Planet is not as bright as Venus you need to wait until total nightfall to see it. Bear in mind it won’t be visible immediately after sunset.