Tag Archives: Rent controls

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..


News Ireland daily BLOG by Donie

Wednesday 26th August 2015

Irish Developers sent on golf and F1 trips by banks as perks


Two of the country’s leading property developers have revealed details of corporate hospitality lavished on them and their associates by banks during the boom.

AIB organised trips for senior management to the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix and to the Ryder Cup in the US.

Trips to the Ryder Cup in Kentucky and other major sporting events were among junkets detailed by developers Gerry Gannon and Peter Cosgrave in statements to the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry.

Former AIB group managing director Colm Doherty also told the inquiry that entertainment it provided to developers was “multi-faceted, occurring across a number of countries in which we operated”.

Impossible list of hospitality?

In a written submission to the inquiry, Mr Gannon detailed a trip to the Ryder Cup courtesy of AIB in 2008, a trip to Venice with Anglo Irish Bank and further corporate hospitality afforded to him by Anglo at a race meeting at the Curragh.

Another executive director of Gannon Homes, Aidan Kenny, went on a trip to Paris with Anglo, Mr Gannon told the inquiry.

Mr Cosgrave said it was impossible to provide the inquiry with an exhaustive list of hospitality arranged by the banks for senior executives in the Cosgrave Property Group.

However, in a written submission, he was able to outline trips to several of the world’s top sporting events, as well as golf days in the UK, France and the US, courtesy of Ulster Bank, AIB, EBS and Bank of Ireland.

Trips to the Irish and British Open golf tournaments were organised by Ulster Bank, while it and AIB took senior executives to the US Masters in Augusta, Georgia.

AIB organised trips for senior management to the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix and to the Ryder Cup in the US.

  1. Horse racing also featured on the list provided by Mr Cosgrave.
  2. Bank of Ireland took company executives to the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.
  3. AIB and EBS hosted senior management at race meetings in Punchestown and Leopardstown.
  4. There was also a one-off ski trip and visits to the opera and theatre organised by Ulster Bank.

In a written submission, Mr Doherty told the inquiry that where corporate hospitality was valued in excess of €500, it had to be recorded in a business unit register within the bank.

He said he believed the corporate hospitality and entertainment spending by AIB on corporate clients was “generally appropriate” and “on par with common practice in the industry”.

He said he could not comment on the extent of entertainment provided by the bank to developers.

However, he said he was aware that AIB had taken “a large contingent of property clients” to the Ryder Cup in Kentucky.

These were also provided with the use of corporate boxes in Croke Park and tickets for rugby and soccer matches, concerts and the theatre.


Mr Doherty said AIB had developed a policy on the giving and receiving of gifts in 2003, setting out ethical standards for staff to abide by.

This permitted gifts, benefits or entertainment valued at up to €500. Any gifts valued between €500 and €1,000 had to be registered, he said.

Pre-approval was required for the acceptance of any gifts, benefits or entertainment valued in excess of €1,000.

Mr Doherty said he believed the limits set out in the policy were appropriate.

He said he was aware of only one instance where hospitality received by AIB staff members from a loan client was deemed inappropriate.

“This occurred in our UK business. In this case the executives involved were subject to disciplinary proceedings, resigned and left the bank,” he said.

Kathleen Lynch confident she will get extra funding for mental health


The Minister with responsibility for Mental Health said that she is confident that she can secure extra funding for services.

The group Mental Health Reform has launched its ‘Invest in my Mental Health’ campaign, setting out how an extra €35m is needed.

Minister Kathleen Lynch said that she will be fighting for the increased budget.

“It may come as a surprise now to Michael Noonan and Brendan Howlin, and I’m saying this publicly but that is the aim,” said Minister Lynch.

Minister Lynch admits there are still recruitment issues in the mental health services area.

But she says there’s been substantial progress on waiting lists for young people.

“There is one issue in terms of child and adolescent mental health services which I was hugely concerned about and so was mental health reform, and we have managed to make progress on that.

“We have the waiting lists reduced considerably, it’s reducing month-on-month, and if we go the way we’re going, those waiting lists will no longer be there at the end of this year. We will have no one waiting longer than 12 months.”

Irish surveyors rule out rent controls as ‘retrograde’


No rent controls, a reduction in Vat on new homes, tax breaks for landlords and an apprenticeship scheme for construction workers are among a list of demands for the Government unveiled by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland yesterday.

In a pre-budget submission, the SCSI has called on the Government to support the delivery of more housing units, more commercial office space and to introduce an apprenticeship scheme to address the skills shortage and create more jobs.

The SCSI, which is the professional representative body for the property, land and construction sectors, said Budget 2016 was an opportune time to put in place key measures to create a more sustainable sector.

The SCSI’s recommendations for the housing sector include:

  • A temporary reduction in Vat on new homes from 13.5% to 9% for properties up to a value of €300,000.
  • A more favourable tax regime for professional providers of rental accommodation.
  • A reduction in development levies.
  • More commercially priced finance for developers.
  • The introduction of low- cost modular housing for people in need of emergency accommodation.

Andrew Nugent, president of the SCSI said: “We are calling for the introduction of a suite of measures that would kick-start building and increase supply.

“The Housing Agency has projected a need for 21,000 units annually and we are currently building less than half of that figure and we now need some short-term measures to stimulate house building activity,” he said.

Commenting on recent coverage on proposals to introduce rent controls, Mr Nugent described this as a retrograde step: “International evidence has shown that rent controls do not work in markets where there is an acute supply shortage.

“Building more units and supporting the financing of rental schemes will make rents more affordable, not artificial controls.”

In the commercial property market, the SCSI has called on Government to increase in available development finance at more attractive rates for viable developments.

It pointed to the recent announcement of a €500m joint venture between the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund and KKR Credit for house building and said that similar funds should be considered for commercial projects.

“One of the main sources of delay on commercial projects coming to the market is difficulties accessing finance. We need to see more finance at commercial rates being made available,” said Nugent.

To advance the construction of commercial buildings in strategic locations, the society is recommending that the IDA should underwrite the rent for office buildings in these areas.

“The IMF estimates suggest that as much as 27% of Ireland’s potential economic output was lost between 2008 and 2013 and the SCSI believes that investment in essential public infrastructure including transport, social housing and broadband provision must be prioritised in terms of public capital investment,” said Nugent.

The SCSI said the Home Renovation Incentive (HRI) scheme which has attracted nearly €300 million worth of construction work should be extended beyond 2015.

The proposals are outlined in the SCSI’s pre-budget submission 2016 document, Building for Growth.

Women urged to know their heart attack risks


Most Irish women have no idea what the biggest killer of females in this country is — wrongly presuming their number one threat is cancer.

A survey for the Irish Heart Foundation found only one in 10 women correctly identified cardiovascular disease — mainly heart attacks and strokes — as the single biggest killer of females here, responsible for about one in three deaths.

The majority believed cancer, in particular breast cancer, claimed most lives despite the fact that women are six times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than breast cancer.

A campaign to make women more aware of the disease and how best to avoid it is being run by the Irish Heart Foundation.

The Red Alert campaign aims to dispel some of the myths and misinformation around cardiovascular disease, alert women to the risk factors, and help them make better lifestyle choices to minimise their chances of falling victim to it.

Dr Angie Brown, a consultant cardiologist and medical director of the Irish Heart Foundation, said women tend to view a heart attack as mainly a man’s problem, with 75% of women believing more men die from heart disease when in fact the death rate is equal.

“Most women are more concerned about breast cancer even though six times as many women die from heart disease and stroke in Ireland each year. Our goal is to alert women that especially after the menopause, they are at risk of heart attack and stroke, as much as any man.”

She said women’s hormones protect against heart disease but after the menopause, their risk caught up with that of a man.

Dr Brown also said women sometimes delayed getting to hospital after a heart attack because their symptoms could be less clear than those experienced by men. A woman may experience more vague symptoms such as nausea, tiredness, shortness of breath, rather than the more usual crushing pain in the chest. The good news is that 80% of cardiovascular disease is preventable and a positive lifestyle can alter risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

“This September’s Red Alert is a wake-up call to every woman in Ireland to take care of her heart health.

“Remember, it’s usually not the fancy stuff that makes you live longer, it’s about the basics: weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, being active, quitting smoking and knowing your family history,” she said.

Norah Casey, an ambassador for the campaign, lost her father to a heart attack and is conscious about heart health: “It was a devastating lesson to learn about the importance of heart health. Heart disease is one of the few largely preventable diseases and we hold the key to heart health in our hands — we just need to use it.”

Theft is more likely to involve an electronic device when you’re outside of London

 Smartphones and tablets are more likely to be taken during a theft in Leicestershire than in London, new research shows.

Data obtained by a series of Freedom of Information requests to England’s police forces by security and communications firm ViaSat found that while electronic device theft accounted for 27% of theft reports to City of London and the Metropolitan Police, the figure rose to 51% in Leicestershire.

This was much higher than the national average; which was 19% of all thefts being device-related. However, ViaSat reported a drop in total reported thefts compared to similar research carried out last year – with reports to the Metropolitan Police falling 37% alone, and on average 34% across the country.

ViaSat chief executive Chris McIntosh said that personal data on the devices was still a draw for criminals: “Whether a corporate smartphone, a personal tablet, or your bank manager’s laptop, there is a huge amount of information stored on electronic devices that can compromise our privacy.

“The simple fact is that, for many thieves, the most tempting target isn’t necessarily the device itself, but what it contains. From access to your bank records; to blackmail; to flat-out identity theft, a lost or stolen device can still damage its owner long after it’s stolen.

“As the largest city in the UK, with the most visitors, London will have a disproportionate number of thefts. But as we can see from these results, wherever you are in the UK you need to not only be wary of your own devices; but make sure that anyone who records and stores your sensitive data does so responsibly and securely.”

Between March 1 2014 and February 2015, there were 285,312 reports of theft to the City of London and Metropolitan Police, with 77,243 involving electronic equipment. In Leicestershire there were 8,661 reports of theft, with 4,451 involving electronics.

Scientists discover new reef that might be even bigger than the Great Barrier Reef


You know Great Barrier Reef off the eastern coast of Australia that you’ve seen in countless videos and pictures? Well, it turns out there’s yet another similarly impressive reef that’s located near the same country.

The Great Barrier Reef in Queensland is part of the UNESCO World Heritage, and Mashable reports that it might have an actual rival located in the south of Australia. Officials from Parks Victoria said that the newly exposed Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park reef near Melbourne can match the Great Barrier Reef in terms of the abundance of coral, sponge and fish.

The problem with the Victoria reef, however, is that it’s located deeper underwater than the Queensland reef, making it inaccessible to snorkelers.

Scientists from the parks service used an ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) to explore the region for the first time and revealed some interesting findings of the underwater area.

“The resulting footage shows that the deep reef habitats are teeming with life and are home to rich and abundant marine ecosystems that are comparable to Australia’s better-known tropical reef areas,” Parks Victoria Marine Science Manager Steffan Howe said. “The extent and abundance of spectacular sponge gardens and corals is a particularly exciting find.”

The scientists found coral fans and dunes that measured at around 30 meters high and 2 kilometers long that house rare fish such as the Australian barracuda and Longsnout Boarfish and also “large sea whips and colorful sponge gardens beyond scientists expectations.”