Tag Archives: Home buyers

News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Thursday 20th October 2016

New Finance Bill sets mortgage threshold for help-to-buy scheme

Threshold for first-time-buyer scheme reduced to 70% of property’s value

Image result for New Finance Bill sets mortgage threshold for help-to-buy scheme   Image result for New Finance Bill sets mortgage threshold for help-to-buy scheme

Even with a maximum rebate, a couple buying a €400,000 home will need to find €38,000 for their deposit.

The mortgage threshold for first-time buyers looking to apply for a rebate under the new help-to-buy scheme has been reduced to 70% of the value of the home in the Finance Bill.

The Government reduced the figure from the 80% announced in the budget last week after intervention by the Central Bank, which was concerned that it would encourage young homebuyers to take on excessive debt.

There has been no change as yet in other elements of the rebate scheme. However, it is expected that the Government will introduce an amendment to the Bill as it passes through the Oireachtas lowering the €600,000 upper limit on the value of homes eligible under the scheme.


As it stands, first-time buyers can apply for a rebate of income tax paid over the four completed tax years prior to purchase up to 5% of the value of the home, or €20,000, whichever is the lesser.

That effectively limits the 5% rebate to properties worth €400,000 or less. Homebuyers can still avail of the relief on properties worth more than that but get no further relief. If the property is worth more than €600,000 – or whatever lower limit is eventually agreed – no relief is available.

The properties bought must either be newly built or self-built by the first-time buyer, and the buyers must have signed a contract on or after July 19th last, or, in the case of self-builds, drawn down the first tranche of their mortgage on or after that date.

A couple buying a €400,000 home require a deposit of €58,000 – 10% on the first €220,000 of value and 20% on the balance. Even with a maximum rebate, they will need to find €38,000 for their deposit.

Applications for the rebate will require the filing of tax returns for the years in question even for PAYE earners who might not, until now, have filed such returns. Revenue will start accepting applications on January 1st, 2017, and will outline the application details required before then.

There will also be a clawback arrangement, blocking homeowners from vacating the property for at least five years after the purchase – for instance to rent it. However, they can avail of the potential €14,000 a year available under the rent-a-room scheme.

Garda strikes would halt criminal court cases, lawyers now say

Applications to have new cases struck out will be made, a solicitor warns

Image result for Garda strikes would halt criminal court cases, lawyers now say   Image result for Garda strikes would halt criminal court cases, lawyers now say

Lawyers say criminal cases at the Central Criminal Court in Dublin, pictured, and throughout the country would be halted by the proposed strikes by Gardaí.

It will be practically impossible for criminal cases to proceed if the strikes planned by Gardaí go ahead, lawyers have warned.

Civil cases, particularly at the Four Courts, where a private security company operates, are likely to proceed, though Gardaí do provide a level of security in many other civil courts. There may be issues with family courts, where a Garda presence, particularly at district level, is often required as a peacekeeping influence.

Two Garda unions have voted to take industrial action and 10,500 rank-and-file Gardaí and an estimated 2,000 sergeants and inspectors will refuse to work for 24 hours from 7am on the four Fridays beginning on November 4th.

Their court role?

Gardaí play an integral part in criminal court cases. Their roles include giving evidence as witnesses, liaising with other witnesses and ensuring they attend court, and liaising with victims and their families. Exhibits officers also control all of the physical evidence in cases.

At District Court level, Gardaí bring prosecutions in minor cases and sergeants or inspectors act as court presenters, bringing forward cases in court instead of requiring a large number of individual gardaí to attend.

Senior counsel Vincent Heneghan said he expected the overall effect of the strike, if it goes ahead, will be that the courts will lose four days out of 20 in November.

“That is hugely significant,” he said. “There will also be cases adjourned and new cases coming into the system could be substantially delayed. The strike could create a clogging effect at the District Court.”

Another senior counsel said Gardaí giving evidence in trials are summonsed to appear in court, like any other witness, and so would be required to appear, even on strike days. But given that other elements of Garda work would not be in place, it remains to be seen whether this will be an issue.

Hospital patients nutrition levels are not being assessed adequately says HIQA

The health watchdog released new reports into care at Tallaght, Limerick and Beaumont Hospitals

Image result for Hospital patients nutrition levels are not being assessed adequately says HIQA v Image result for Hospital patients nutrition levels are not being assessed adequately says HIQA Image result for Hospital patients nutrition levels are not being assessed adequately says HIQA

Health watchdog HIQA is reporting that some hospitals are not adequately assessing patient’s nutrition levels.

Ad hoc systems are implemented when it comes to ensuring patients are properly nourished and hydrated, the reports find.

Concern has also been raised about communication with patients on their food requirements during their time under medical care.

An unannounced inspection in Tallaght Hospital was carried in August this year. Inspectors found that patients on these wards were not always screened for their risk of malnutrition on admission, nor were they re-screened weekly.

Patients offered mixed views on the quality of meals. In addition, a small number of patients reported that they had not always received what they had ordered.

During an unannounced inspection at Beaumount Hospital, it was found that patients were routinely screened for the risk of malnutrition on admission on some of the wards. However, inspectors found that screening was not always carried out for patients in a timely manner.

Most patients were positive about the meals offered, other patients offered mixed views on the meals. A small number of patients reported that they had not always received what they had ordered.

Findings from their inspection at University Hospital Limerick show that the hospital routinely screened patients on all wards for their risk of malnutrition within 24 hours of admission to hospital. However, weekly re-screening was not always carried out.

While the majority of patients spoken with by inspectors were complimentary about the choice, taste and temperature of food and drinks available in the hospital, some patients told inspectors that meal times, especially the evening meal, was too early.

Results also show that not all patients who required assistance were offered it in a prompt manner and there was no system in place to alert catering staff as to which patients needed assistance with meals.

David McGowan adds vintage train to quirky collection in Glamping village Enniscrone Co Sligo

Image result for David McGowan adds vintage train to quirky collection in Glamping village Enniscrone Co Sligo  Image result for David McGowan adds vintage train to quirky collection in Glamping village Enniscrone Co Sligo  Image result for Train carriages transported to the glamping site in Sligo

Train carriages transported to the glamping site in Sligo.

David McGowan oversaw the arrival of a three-carriage train to Enniscrone in Sligo from London on Monday.

A funeral director has told how he wants to bring a “bit of life” back into his area with a quirky glamping village where guests can sleep in a vintage train.

Image result for David McGowan adds vintage train to quirky collection in Glamping village Enniscrone Co Sligo  David McGowan oversaw the arrival of a three-carriage train to Enniscrone in Sligo from London on Monday – just months after bringing a Boeing 767 to the seaside town.

The 56-year-old businessman, who is from nearby Ballina, Co Mayo, became a local celebrity in May when he transported the aircraft north from Co Clare by sea on a barge.

And he was delighted with his latest arrival at 7am on Monday, confident his unique collection of a plane, train, yacht and helicopter can make his glamping site a must-see for thousands of visitors.

The dad of three said: “There’s great support for it and there’s a great social impact as well.

“It’s putting Sligo on the world map and there’s two towns there, Ballina and Enniscrone, and it’s bringing a bit of life about the place.”

The train was bought from a preserved railway in North London and the huge task of bringing it to the West of Ireland took almost four days – and was only permitted to take place in Ireland at night.

The carriages, which were used on the London rail network for many years, cost €20,000 with transport costs likely to add up to a further €20,000.

A Boeing 767 airplane arrives at Enniscrone estuary after being tugged from Shannon airport out to sea around the west coast of Ireland, May 7, 2016.

The train was brought by truck from London to Heysham before being transported by ferry to Dublin Port.

The mammoth delivery was then taken through the capital and across Ireland to Sligo with 10 voluntary bike marshalls driving alongside the unique consignment.

However, while David said it was a challenge, he added it was not as difficult as transporting the Boeing 767 in May.

He said: “I was after moving a plane so nothing could be bigger than that. And I was better prepared this time, I wasn’t prepared for the plane. I was a lot cuter this time.”

David added they have had 40,000 visitors in Enniscrone since the Boeing 767 arrived and he is eager to build on the interest and increase tourism in the area.

He also told how they streamed the transportation of the train live online.

David said: “There was 1,000 people at the quays when we arrived.”

Monkey toolmakers smash some long-held beliefs

Capuchin monkeys make sharp stone flakes similar to those made by ancient humans

Image result for Monkey toolmakers smash some long-held beliefs  Image result for Monkey toolmakers smash some long-held beliefs  Image result for Monkey toolmakers smash some long-held beliefs

A capuchin monkey above pic breaks its hammerstone as it strikes an embedded cobble in the Serra da Capivara National Park, Brazil. The monkeys preferred to lick off the stone dust and then throw the flakes away.

A troop of monkeys in Brazil has smashed a long-held belief that only humans were smart enough to manufacture tools.

The capuchin monkeys were videoed happily banging one stone against another, chipping off sharp-edged rock flakes in the process.

These flakes look identical to the stone flake tools made by early humans.

But while our ancestors used the sharp edges for cutting and scraping objects, the monkeys preferred to lick off the stone dust and then throw the flakes away.

Prof Tomos Proffitt of Oxford University and colleagues travelled to South America to video the capuchins as they bashed stones together.

The monkeys very deliberately smashed the stones to break them apart but the resultant sharp flakes were an unintentional result of their efforts, the scientists write on Wednesday in the journal Nature.

The discovery is hugely important, however. The team collected stone fragments immediately after they were produced and these are virtually indistinguishable from the flakes produced intentionally by early humans.

This means there could be doubts about whether the stone tools found at early stone age sites were produced by humans or monkeys.

Hallmark of earliest human tool development. Image result for Monkey toolmakers smash some long-held beliefs

Scientists use the distinctive characteristics of flaked stone tools to distinguish them from naturally broken stones. The flakes have always been considered a hallmark of human involvement in the earliest stone tool technology, the authors write.

The capuchin’s party piece, a trick perhaps also repeated by its ancestors, undermines the assumption that the making of sharp flakes must have been achieved through human involvement.

The monkeys use two hands to pound a hammer stone against another, the goal being to break the stones open, the authors say. The animals then lick up the dust, perhaps to get at minerals inside or to consume lichens released by all the banging.

They discard the stone flakes once the dust has been licked off and they were never seen using the sharp edges to cut or scrape, the scientists add.


News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Monday 24th August 2015

Upbeat mood on Ireland’s third quarter economic outlook


Economic uncertainty across Europe and in China appears to be weighing on investors’ minds, with a 2% drop in positive sentiment evident in the latest Rabo- Direct Investor Barometer.

Nonetheless, some 89% of investors are confident about the country’s economic prospects in the third quarter — down from 91%.

A slightly larger decline in the number of people expressing confidence in the global economy was recorded with 76% of this mind, a drop of 3%.

Investor confidence in the Irish property market has fallen sharply, down 10% from 67% to 57%.

An increasing number of investors are optimistic about their personal finances, however, up 3% to 84%.

“The stream of good news about the Irish economy continues to sustain overall sentiment, which has impacted positively on investors’ confidence around their personal financial situation.

However, not surprisingly, recent events in Greece and China have impacted investors’ economic outlook,” said Rabo-Direct head of investments, Killian Nolan.

“With the likelihood that the current low growth and low inflation trend will persist in the medium term, the challenge for investors is around achieving a return on their available funds.

The growing influence of technology in our daily lives and in replacing jobs through software and robots means some of the best returns available today are in technology investment. Other investments performing well include healthcare and European property markets.”



The average age of the first time HOME buyer in Ireland has risen by four years to 33 over the past decade, with one estate agency group predicting that this figure may rise sharply yet again over the next few years.

In 2005 the average first time buyer in Ireland was approximately 29 years old, but, according to a Real Estate Alliance (REA) survey, this figure has increased by 14 per cent and is still rising due to a combination of circumstances.

High rents and the introduction of the mortgage deposit rules have combined to create a situation that is increasingly delaying the entry of young people into the housing market.

“While many young people are now returning from abroad with the growth in the economy, they are finding it difficult to secure mortgage approval without a full year’s employment behind them, which is pushing the average up all the time,” said REA CEO Philip Farrell.

“Through economic or other reasons, our young people left the country in their droves over the past decade, and this has created a lost generation in housing purchase terms.

“A high percentage of young Irish adults in their early 20’s chose to travel the world for extensive periods of time – at one stage emigration was claiming 60,000 young Irish people a year.

“In many cases the decision to do this is taken following completion of college education or after learning a skill.

“As a result of this people are taking longer to return home, settle down and have families – we estimate that emigration has put many people’s life plans back by five years.

“We are also finding that young people’s attitude towards property buying in their 20s is changing as a result of the global crash.

“Due to the uncertainty surrounding property values during the recession, many young people chose to ‘park the bus’ in relation to purchasing their own home and confidence in property as an investment was diminished.

“Interestingly, average life expectancy in Ireland has increased by four years to nearly 81 over the last 15 years. This figure will continue to increase and it is our opinion that young people feel that they have more time on their side.

“As a result of both of these factors, we have seen many potential first time buyers choosing to either remain in the family home or rent for longer periods rather than following the race to get on the property ladder.

“This has had a knock-on effect and the average age of the second-time buyer is 39 and also increasing.

“It is important to remember that there exists particular pockets of the country where these figures are both lower and higher than the average.

“We estimate that the average first time buyer in the capital is closer to 35, due to high property values.

“However, in rural country towns with a large multinational IT employer, our agents report that the first time buyer average is in the late twenties as well-paid employees secure mortgages for more affordable properties.

“Over the past two years average property values have increased at a faster pace than average wage levels, therefore the whole area of affordability has become a factor.

“One issue for consideration is the low prevailing interest rates which will not remain so forever and ultimately will also affect the affordability issue.”

One of the main deterrents for young purchasers is getting adequate access to finance, according to REA agents.

“The introduction of the Central Bank’s mortgage deposit requirements, combined with higher rents, has made it increasingly difficult for young people to save deposits, especially in Dublin.

“While their use as a medium to restrain house price increases has been welcome, they have had the effect of suppressing movement in many areas of the market.

“This has been most apparent amongst second time buyers who need to raise a full 20% deposit. Their inability to do so is creating a knock on effect in supply of suitable housing for first time buyers.

“The new income requirements of 3.5 times salary combined with increased deposit requirements introduced by the Central Bank in February of this year will continue to put pressure on the average age of first time buyers in this country.

REA agents are also reporting that young people are also being forced to reapply for finance due to mortgage offers expiring as a result of sales falling through when part of a selling chain.

Robert Grimes of REA Grimes Mortgages in Dublin feels that the traditional view of the property ladder has changed for young people.

“I feel that first time buyers are looking for a house that they can possibly live in for life rather than having to plan to trade up.

“I definitely feel that there is a fear factor of not making the same mistake that family members, friends or work colleagues did a decade ago.”

Psoriasis drug may aid diabetes treatment

Drug benefits those with type 1 diabetes


Scientists have discovered that a drug that is currently used to treat the skin condition, psoriasis, could benefit people with type 1 diabetes.

The news has been welcomed by the national diabetes charity, Diabetes Ireland.

A team in the US discovered that the drug, Alefacept, which targets the immune system of psoriasis sufferers, appears to keep the insulin-producing cells of people with type 1 diabetes safe and healthy.

The results follow a two-year clinical trial involving people newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

The same team of scientists had already reported positive results back in 2013, but now, 15 months after the last dose of the drug was given to participants, they are taking less insulin on a day-to-day basis.

They have also been found to have higher levels of the C-peptide protein in their blood than those given a placebo. This is a by-product of insulin protection. This suggests that those taking Alefacept are making more of their own insulin than those not taking the drug.

Meanwhile, the scientists also found that people who had taken the psoriasis drug had lower levels of cells that are known to attack the pancreas in type 1 diabetes, and higher levels of cells that regulate the immune system.

Dr Anna Clarke, research manager at the Diabetes Ireland Research Alliance, described the findings as ‘really promising’, particularly because this drug is already in use, ‘so is already deemed to be safe’.

“Any development that helps us understand how people respond to a therapy that alters the immune system could create new treatment approaches and make a cure or vaccine for type 1 diabetes one step closer,” she commented.

Dr Gerald Nepom, director of the Immune Tolerance Network, which carried out the clinical trial, acknowledged that ‘achieving a long-term benefit following a short-course therapy is a challenging goal’. He said the next step in the research will be to carry out a detailed analysis of the immune cell types in the blood of those who responded to the psoriasis drug.

“This will help us identify the best way to improve this type of immune therapy for people with type 1 diabetes and potentially other autoimmune conditions,” he said.

New system with An Post to slash retail red tape


Retailers will be the first group to benefit from a new licensing portal which it is hoped will slash through much of the cumbersome red tape that has existed up until now.

The new portal being established by the Government in conjunction with An Post and Escher Groups will act as a one-stop shop for retailers to register and apply for licences they are obliged to have for trading purposes.

The system, which will be rolled out to some 20,000 retailers by December, is expected to dramatically reduce the amount of time in form filing required to comply with various licensing obligations.

Welcoming the announcement of the system, Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said the it was being rolled out in response to issues with the current system raised by businesses.

“I am very conscious of the time businesses spend on the various licence applications required by Government and agencies and this initiative is in response to business demands. By streamlining this system it goes some way towards our goal of making Ireland the best small country in the world in which to do business,” Mr Bruton said.

A review of the current system was undertaken to study the various licences required by businesses, from which the idea of the portal was born.

The Government then committed that all relevant licensing authorities would work towards the development of an integrated system amalgamating processes in existence across government departments, agencies and licensing authorities.

To begin with, the system will be available for retailers to make use of with applications for 29 core licences across 40 public sector authorities available.

Among the licences retailers will be able to apply for are gaming licences, the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) licence, as well as those required by food business operators and casual traders.

An Post and its technology partner Escher are putting the system in place to allow licences to be available on the portal for the retail sector by December.

“This has the potential to be a significant step in reducing the administrative burden for business, particularly for small businesses and startups. As the minister with responsibility for SMEs, the feedback I often get from entrepreneurs is that while we have made significant strides in reforming and reducing bureaucracy for business, there is still too much red tape

“The new system will save time for businesses and make it easier to apply for and renew licences,” Minister for Business and Employment, Ged Nash said.

Ancient fire fountains once exploded on the moon’s surface


Scientists may have solved the mystery of how fiery eruptions took place on our moon’s surface. Researchers have discovered the volatile gas that drove the eruptions.

“The question for many years was what gas produced these sorts of eruptions on the moon,” said Alberto Saal, one of the researchers, in a news release. “The gas is gone, so it hasn’t been easy to figure out.”

The evidence of explosions come in the form of tiny beads of volcanic glass that can be found on the lunar surface. The researchers carefully analyzed glass beads brought back to Earth from the Apollo 15 and 17 missions. In particular, they looked at samples that contained melt inclusions, which are tiny dots of molten magma that become trapped within crystals of olivine.

So what did they find? It turns out that lava associated with lunar fire fountains contained significant amounts of carbon. As it rose from the depths of the moon, the carbon combined with oxygen to creast substantial amounts of carbon monoxide gas (CO). This CO gas was responsible for the fire fountains that sprayed volcanic glass over parts of the lunar surface.

“Most of the carbon would have degassed deep under the surface,” said Alberto Saal, one of the researchers, in a news release. “Other volatiles like hydrogen degassed later, when the magma was much closer to the surface and after the lava began breaking up into small globules. That suggests carbon was driving the process in the early stages.”

The findings reveal a bit more about the history of the moon which, in turn, may reveal a bit more about the formation of our own planet.