Saturday/Sunday 8th & 9th November 2014
Honohan says 20% mortgage deposit rule may not happen
Central Bank Governor not in favour of Government home loan insurance plan
Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan has hinted that there could be an easing of the rules that will require mortgage applicants to save a 20% deposit.
Last month, the Central Bank announced new mortgage rules requiring homebuyers to put down a 20% deposit on the value of a property and that banks will be restricted to lending three-and-a-half times a borrower’s gross income.
“The Central Bank’s recent consultation paper pointedly raises the question of whether adequately insured mortgages should be allowed to exceed the general 80% rule which has been proposed – this might cover up to 90%, for example,” he said.
The regulations were due to come into effect on January 1st 2015.
“While we point out that too liberal a use of such insurance can have the effect of neutralising the effectiveness of a ceiling on loan-to-value ratios as a mechanism for preventing house price bubbles, and while it typically provides no protection to the borrower, this would be less a concern if limited, for example, to relatively small loans and/or first time buyers,” he said.
Mr Honohan was speaking at the annual National Management Forum, held by the Money Advice and Budgetary Service, in Portlaoise.
He also indicated he was not in favour of the Government mortgage insurance plan which will involve the State taking responsibility for 10–15% of a loan’s value, the deposit covering approximately 5%, and the bank being liable for the remainder.
“Of course, mortgage insurance would achieve relatively little if it merely shuffled systemic risk around within the domestic economy: external insurance from solid insurers would be needed,” he said.
Mr Honohan also said that limiting high loan-to-income mortgages will ensure consumer protection in the future and reduce the re-emergence of over indebtedness.
“We do envisage continuing to allow high LTIs – just not too many of them,” he said.
He said the Central Bank would do all in its power to protect the new generation of households and the nation at large, from the risk of repetition of what happened before.
Mr Honohan said while the implementation of personal insolvency framework had some “teething problems” it has helped to address “the imbalance of power that is often inherent in the creditor-debtor relationship.”
Mr Honohan referred to the “stigmatisation” of debtors and said “judgmental language or attaching blame is usually not the most constructive way of dealing with the acute practical problems” associated with debt.
He added that some of the writing on financial literacy “smacks of blaming the victim”.
“Many of the most acute household financial problems come from misfortune and lapses of judgement. Probably some of this could have been avoided if individuals, lenders as well as borrowers, had been informed to make good financial decisions under conditions of uncertainty,” he said.
Waves of emigration from Ireland leave a legacy of love and loss behind it
‘The report is a reminder that behind all the emigration statistics over the past 200 years, and despite the modern revolution in technology, certain things remain constant’
‘During its various waves it is not just parents who have experienced loss, but also siblings who could not or would not leave for a variety of reasons.’
Above, Irish emigrants leaving the West of Ireland for America in 1880. Original Publication:
Occasionally, research findings that appear to highlight the blindingly obvious are published. Earlier this week, Trinity College Dublin’s longitudinal study on ageing (www.tilda.tcd.ie) highlighted the hardly surprising reality that some mothers have suffered from depression following the emigration of their children between 2009 and 2013.
Research for the Tilda report reveals “general and robust evidence of mental health declines for the mothers of emigrants … by comparing the parents who saw at least one child emigrate with those whose children remained in Ireland, we have the potential to produce strong statistical evidence of a causal relationship between emigration and mental health”.
The authors of the report stress that what is novel in their approach is that “while emigration is often discussed in terms of the people who leave, this paper shows that there are real impacts on the people left behind … While the suffering of parents as their children leave is often referred to, this is the first time that the effects have been identified in a nationally-representative dataset.”
Again, it is hardly revelatory that those left behind feel the effects, but it is fair to highlight that such feelings have not traditionally been explored in depth and to that extent, at least the report encourages reflection on the impact of emigration on those people.
The report is a reminder that behind all the emigration statistics over the past 200 years, and despite the modern revolution in technology, certain things remain constant and unchanging.
In 2010, Philip Lynch from Westmeath, who emigrated to Melbourne in the 1980s, offered this powerful and moving recollection in a contribution to this newspaper: “On the June morning I left, I found my mother in an upstairs bedroom. She was already well past the point of consolation .. . the surprise and shock of seeing my mother so upset that morning stayed with me for a long time.”
Those who benefited
This is only part of the complex history of Irish emigration. During its various waves it is not just parents who have experienced loss, but also siblings who could not or would not leave for a variety of reasons, but there were always those who benefited materially by staying at home, whether through inheritance or the money sent home from abroad; emigration created its own hierarchies.
In the 19th century, for example, it was convenient for commercial farmers who were doing well to blame Irish emigration on British colonial rule and thus to divert attention from their own role in evictions, farm consolidation and market-oriented farming.
Irish historian Kevin Kenny points out that “there was a strong element of expediency in the invocation of banishment and exile by those who stayed at home”. But on the other side there were also those who felt they had lost much by not leaving.
When he was interviewed for an RTÉ Prime Timeprogramme in 2003 that dealt with the experiences of Irish emigrants who had fallen on hard times, Fr Jerry Kivlehan of the Camden Irish Centre in London insisted: “Ireland hasn’t even begun the debate about emigration. In the same family you can have two brothers – one forced to emigrate, the other forced to stay. Both end their lives feeling bitter, both feeling they got the bad end of the stick.”
Since then, owing to the most recent wave of emigration, it is fair to assert that some of the debate that Kivlehan identified as absent has begun, at least in relation to the emigrants.
When occasionally referred to historically, Irish emigrants were often spoken and written about in the abstract, or religious and charitable organisations would speak on their behalf, but the displaced individuals remained invisible.
Contemporary emigrants, partly due to their level of education and developments in communications and social media are much more vocal and in touch with Irish news and current affairs, but those who are grieving their absence rarely get much attention beyond the annual snapshots of them tearfully embracing their loved ones as they embark on their journey or return for holidays.
At least the Tilda report highlights some of the psychological implications for those enduring loss. Reading it, I was reminded of Seán Keating’s 1936 painting Economic Pressure which depicts a stationary, gaunt, immobile man standing between two worlds; the barren Aran islands and the world of opportunity beyond, where a younger man embracing his female relative, probably his mother, is heading to.
We know from accounts written by emigrants, including the writer George O’Brien, that the journey for such young emigrants was not straightforward; in O’Brien’s words, it often involved handling identity and integration issues by “sliding from one self to another, which seemed part of the swing of things”, or in the words of another writer and former journalist with this newspaper, Donal Foley, “clinging to the comradeship of adversity”.
Perhaps the Tilda report will make us think about how such mental sliding and clinging works for those left at home, bereft. Such feelings do not just belong to the pre-Skype decades.
Michael Ring launches an Ireland tourism drive
The Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring, joined Tourism Ireland and 70 tourism enterprises from across the island of Ireland at World Travel Market (WTM) in London last week, heralding the beginning of the promotional drive overseas for the 2015 season.
Now in its 35th year, World Travel Market is the largest B2B event in the global travel and tourism calendar, with about 50,000 travel industry professionals from around the world and 3,000 influential international media in attendance.
According to the organisers of WTM, more than £2.2 billion (approximately €2.8 billion) worth of business was transacted at the event in 2013. This year, some 70 Irish tourism enterprises – including hotels, visitor attractions, ferry companies, coach companies, incoming tour operators, hostels and activity providers – exhibited at the Tourism Ireland stand.
Over four days, they engaged in thousands of meetings with British and international tour operators as they negotiated and exchange vital contracts for 2015.
Minister Ring said: “I am highly impressed with the level of business done by the tourism industry at this year’s World Travel Market, particularly at the Ireland stand, where I saw tourism enterprises from all parts of the country conducting hundreds of business meetings and doing a great job of selling tourism to the global travel trade.
“The government believes strongly in the importance of tourism as a vehicle for Irish economic recovery and we are committed to supporting the tourism industry’s efforts to increase Ireland’s export earnings from overseas tourism.”
Latest CSO figures for overseas visitors to Ireland are very strong, confirming growth of 9.3 per cent in overseas visitors to Ireland for the January to September period – more than 500,000 additional visitors when compared with the same nine-month period in 2013.
Benjy the gay bull faces the slaughterhouse because he’s ‘more interested in other bulls than heifers’
Benjy has now been replaced on the Co Mayo farm.
A bull with seemingly no interest in cows, but a liking for other bulls, is facing the slaughterhouse.
Benjy, the breeding bull, has been chasing other bulls as opposed to heifers.
He is now facing the slaughterhouse as his owner has been forced to bring in a replacement bull to inseminate his herd.
The farmer, who wishes to remain anonymous, said he is resigned to the animal’s sexuality.
“The bull is now too old to castrate and turn into a bullock so I will keep him for the factory,” he told the Irish Daily Mail.
The farmer bought the pedigree Charolais bull last year and let it run among his herd of cows.
However, he was disappointed when scans showed that none of the herd were carrying calves.
“Benjy had already been tested and everything was normal, so it became apparent that the problem lay elsewhere,” he told the Mail.
The farmer thought he might have been a “discreet chappie” who didn’t want to be “doing the business in public”.
On closer observation, the farmer noted that Benjy seemed more interested in other bulls as opposed to cows.
“At first I didn’t take seriously that the bull could be gay but after seeking advice I know this can happen,” he said.
A number of the herd are now expecting after a replacement bull was brought in to the east Co Mayo farm.
Short-beaked dolphins frolic for first time in Strangford lough
One of the dolphins caught up close
Two research scientists gathering seaweed have captured the startling moment a pair of dolphins decided to start frolicking in the waters near the mouth of Strangford Lough.
The marine mammals were captured breaching the surface and leaping into the air repeatedly close to the Minesto sea kite underwater turbine – also a popular spot with the local porpoises.
Dr Karen Mooney managed to take six minutes of gripping footage on her mobile phone after the alert was raised by Dr Louise Kregting, her colleague at the Queen’s University Marine Lab in Portaferry.
The Irish Whale and Dolphin Group later revealed that it was the first validated sighting record of the short-beaked common dolphin in Strangford Lough and only the second record of the species appearing in the waters off the Co Down coast.
Dr Mooney, project manager of the QUB section of the international EnAlgae research project investigating uses for seaweed, said she was on her way to the longlines where the weed is cultivated when the dolphins put on their magnificent show.
“We were heading out in the boat on Wednesday morning to check the lines round Jackdaw Island when Louise saw a bit of splashing in the lough,” she told the Belfast Telegraph. “We went out in the boat and just circled round the area for about six minutes.
“They seem to like playing in between the sea kite turbine and Audley’s Castle on the shore.”
Queen’s marine team film Dolphins playing in Strangford Lough in rare sighting
The pair were captured on film breaching the water, leaping, rolling onto their backs and belly-flopping.
“We sent the footage to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group and they said it was the first recorded footage of a sighting of this species in Strangford Lough and only the second sighting of the common dolphin on the Co Down coast,” said Dr Mooney.
“The first time they were seen was off the Copeland Islands.
The video can be viewed on YouTube at http://youtu.be/C9IWQM206rk
Background: Short-beaked common dolphins are gregarious and live in herds ranging from a few tens to several thousands. They are active and boisterous and often bow-ride boats, ships and even large whales. Breaching and surface slaps using the flippers are not uncommon.
They are highly vocal, producing a wide range of whistles and pulsed sounds. The most useful field identification features of the short-beaked common dolphin are the yellowish/ochre patches on the sides in front of the dorsal fin and the V formed by the intersection of the different colours just below the dorsal fin.