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Thursday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - November 20, 2014
By Finfacts Team
Nov 20, 2014 - 4:04 AM

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Irish Independent

A GOVERNMENT minister has admitted there is a "risk" around the new water charges plan passing EU rules.

Communications Minister Alex White said he was confident the cost of water would be kept off the balance sheet by passing the Eurostat test.

"Of course there is a risk around whether this will pass the test," he said.

US financial services company Citi is creating 600 new jobs in Belfast in a £54m investment.

Citi Belfast already employs around 1,500 people in its offices in the regenerated Titanic Quarter.

Stormont business promotion agency Invest NI has contributed almost £6 million to the investment while the Department of Employment and Learning has offered an additional £250,000 of state support.

Citi said the "highly skilled" posts would be deployed providing a range of support services to the global organisation.

Having opened in 2010 as the economic crisis was in full swing, the Gibson Hotel in Dublin has benefited from increasing tourist numbers and a revitalised business environment

Nicky Logue has to think hard about it when he's asked what the weirdest customer request the Gibson Hotel has ever had is. But he still can't really muster one.

"We had a comedian staying here recently who was performing at the 3 Arena (right across the road) and she was adamant she was bringing her dog. That's not a problem, as long as you're well in control of the animal. We don't charge for the animal, except maybe if there's a soilage issue."

Too much detail.

The affable Logue, a native of Ennis, Co Clare, doesn't say who the comedian was and no finger will be pointed towards UK-based Miranda Hart, for instance.

Irish Times

The Coalition has probably put more time and effort into water charges than any other contentious issue, even abortion. While some protesters are ideologically opposed to paying for water, for others the charge was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The Government’s authority has been brought into question in recent weeks and months, which has a knock-on effect on stability. When mistakes are made, trying to put them right is always the correct thing to do, even if the U-turn comes very late in the day.

The Government has appeared tone deaf to people’s concerns for a long time, although Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin yesterday insisted it was in “listening” mode.

Swiss researchers have come up with what they say is compelling scientific evidence that bankers have a tendency to lie if they’ll gain from it financially.

The team at the University of Zurich used game playing experiments to show “that the prevailing culture in the banking industry weakens and undermines the honesty norm, implying that measures to re-establish an honest culture are very important”.

The study, published in the leading journal Nature, probes the psychology behind what the researchers call “a dramatic loss of reputation and a crisis of trust in the financial sector”, as a result of rogue trading, rigged interest rates such as Libor and tax evasion scandals.

Goldman Sachs said it fired two staff after a junior employee passed confidential information from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, his former employer, to a senior colleague in the investment bank.

Goldman said the incident on Sept. 26 was immediately reported to its compliance team, regulators and the New York Fed and an internal investigation was launched into the junior employee’s actions.

Irish Examiner

Tánaiste Joan Burton is subjected to what must have been a frightening ordeal when her car was surrounded by water charge protesters for two hours and she was unable to leave the area in question.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny goes to a meeting of the Fine Gael faithful in a hotel in Sligo and comes out to find hundreds of water charge protesters waiting for him and attempting to block him in, even resorting to climbing on the roof of his car.

Environment Minister Alan Kelly receives a call at his office and gets a bomb threat.

We cannot condone such behaviour. It is not acceptable. However, perhaps we should not be surprised by it either.

While such behaviour is not acceptable in any environment, including what is supposed to be a functioning democracy, could it just be that this government and its immediate predecessors brought it on itself?

Could it be that the behaviour of Government with its barely disguised contempt for the Dáil and through that, for all citizens of this republic, has begun to polarise people like they have never been before?

Europe

Euro Topics: German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Wednesday. Putin's invitation came as a surprise as German Chancellor Angela Merkel had recently voiced harsh criticism of the Kremlin chief. Merkel has done major damage to relations between Russia and the West, some commentators write. Others believe Steinmeier could thaw the frosty mood in the Ukraine crisis.

German foreign minister as bridge-builder: With his modest and reserved attitude in the Ukraine conflict the German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier ensures that the Russian leadership is always willing to talk to him, the left-liberal German daily Frankfurter Rundschau writes in praise: "The likeable thing about the German foreign minister's diplomatic style in the last few months of the Ukraine crisis is its modesty. ... It conveys a serene attitude in the midst of an increasingly bellicose environment. It displays no trace of what the Russian president ceaselessly complains of: it is neither brash nor triumphant. And it takes Russia very seriously - regarding its legitimate interests as well as its behaviour."

Renzi set to box through job market reform: Italy's two biggest trade unions called a nationwide strike on Wednesday against Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's labour market reform plans. But the latter refuses to negotiate and the reform is due to be passed in parliament on November 26. The going will be really tough for Renzi from now on, the liberal Italian daily La Stampa predicts: "If Matteo Renzi's goal was to show the world how independent his government is from the trade unions, he hit the mark. Meanwhile the consequences of a conflict that already appears to be getting out of control seem unpredictable. The fierceness of the confrontation also reveals two truths that are only seemingly contradictory. The first: the allegation that Matteo Renzi is pursuing a policy of big announcements without substance can be dismissed. The second: after months of optimism the prime minister is now facing a stony path full of countless dangers."

Klaus Brill on the Germans' strange mental maps: Twelve states with roughly 160 million inhabitants lie between Russia and Germany. Nevertheless many Germans view Russia as their most important neighbour, Klaus Brill criticises in the left-liberal German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung: "When Germans talk of Russia as a neighbour these days, they certainly mean it in a wider sense - or they're thinking of maps as they used to be. ... It's all a matter of perspective. Everyone has their own mental map in their head and heart, with countries sorted according to their personal interests and current political importance. ... We're dealing with a sort of psycho-geography which also reflects power relationships and individual experiences. ... It is not surprising that those living 'between the two' live with different mental maps. The first thing they think of when they hear the Germans talk like that is that they are once again being largely overlooked. ... As paradoxical as it sounds, many Germans feel closer to Russia than to all that lies between the two countries. For Poles, Latvians, Estonians or Lithuanians this comes as a painful realisation."


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