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News : Irish Last Updated: Nov 6, 2012 - 9:36 AM


Tuesday Newspaper Review - Irish Business News and International Stories - - November 06, 2012
By Finfacts Team
Nov 6, 2012 - 9:32 AM

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The Irish Independent reports that actor Gabriel Byrne has ridiculed the Government's Gathering 2013 tourism drive as a "scam" and branded the Taoiseach's speech launching the initiative as "offensive."

He said the diaspora has a strong "spiritual connection" to Ireland but feels abandoned by the Government, adding that the bridge linking Ireland to the US is broken.

He also said that Irish-Americans will not accept being "shaken down" for money.

The Gathering 2013 is the Government's marketing centrepiece for the tourism industry next year which aims to bring an extra 325,000 visitors to Ireland.

More than 6.2 million visited from overseas last year.

The acclaimed actor -- who previously served as the cultural ambassador for Ireland in the US -- said people were "sick to death" of being asked to help out in what they regarded as a "scam".

"I wish The Gathering the very best of luck but they have to understand that the bridge between the diaspora and the people is broken and I tried to fix that for two years and it's still broken," he said.

"Most people don't give a shit about the diaspora except to shake them down for a few quid."

Speaking on 'The Last Word' on Today FM, which was broadcast from New York, he recalled his own childhood when he met Irish-American tourists visiting Dublin. "I remember when I was growing up in Dublin, those buses would pull up and those people in Burberry coats would be laughed at because they'd say 'here come the Yanks looking for their roots'.

"Well, as far as I'm concerned one of the most sacred things you can do is look for your roots."

The 62-year-old said much had been achieved during his tenure as cultural ambassador before he stepped down from the role last year.

"It was a tremendous achievement what we did in two years. I was really disappointed the way all those contacts, all that hard work was just dropped and it made me disillusioned with this Government, who go on about their love for culture and the arts and actually really don't give a toss about it."

The Irish Independent also reports that a little-known entertainment cash fund of €30,000 a year is being used to splurge on guests and associates of a select group of TDs.

As many as 15 Dail politicians are entitled to the entertainment perk as part of their work as chairmen of Oireachtas committees.

The money is used to buy lunch and drink for guests of the committees in bars and restaurants.

The annual entertainment allowance works out at €2,539 each and is revealed in documents provided to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) by Kieran Coughlan, the clerk of the Dail.

TDs are defending the allowance by saying it is used to pay for lunch for guests and witnesses before their committee. But bizarrely, it is also available to the Dail and Seanad committees on members' interests, whose work is to decide the rules for each house and does not usually involve entertaining delegations.

When asked why these committees would need an allowance, an Oireachtas spokeswoman said: "They can invite experts in on anything."

PAC chairman John McGuinness said he had never heard of the allowance and wasn't drawing it down; while Labour TD Joanna Tuffy, who chairs the Education and Social Protection Committee, said she had no need for it yet.

One chairman, who did not wish to be named, said it had been used in the past by TDs who threw events like Christmas lunches off the Leinster House campus.

The Oireachtas spokeswoman added it was not paid directly to the chairman, but could be used at their discretion and the discretion of the committee.

Secretaries

The money is kept by various committee secretaries and can be called upon by the TDs and senators when wanted. However, the spokeswoman could not say exactly how much has been drawn down this year, but insisted it wasn't much.

A working group decided to voluntarily cap the spending at €25,000 this year, and restrict the use of the allowance to within the Leinster House complex. However, this is the first year this has been done, and there are no plans yet for next year.

"It is not for their personal spend and the use of it has to be related to the work of the committee," the spokeswoman said.

Labour TD Dominic Hannigan (pictured), who is chair of the European Affairs Committee, said he often used the allowances when delegations from other countries visited the Dail.

"Ahead of the Fiscal Treaty Referendum, we had delegations over from Europe and the UK and we would have brought them for lunch in Leinster House," Mr Hannigan said.

But Independent TD Thomas Pringle, who chairs the Dail members' interests committee, said he wouldn't use the extra money. "I don't take the extra €10,000 and I don't use the entertainment allowance either. I think we are well enough paid.

"It hasn't been used in my time and I don't think it will," Mr Pringle added of the entertainment allowance.

"I don't know what we'd really need it for, maybe if the Westminster ethics committee came over and we wanted to bring them out."

Committee chairmen already get paid an extra €9,500 annually on top of their Dail salary, as well as an additional €1,100 towards telephone costs, while the PAC chairman gets €1,700 in phone costs.

The Irish Times reports that in Quinn country they’re keeping faith with the man who created the empire that is still employing more than 1,000 people on the Border between Fermanagh and Cavan.

They have a mediation plan that Seán Quinn supporters believe could resurrect both the fortunes of the company that Seán Quinn lost and that could even have the jailed former billionaire back at the helm.

Some people might find that fanciful but not here.

Dozens of people, some of them Quinn Group workers staged half-day protests in the area in support of Seán Quinn and his family.

Protesters using tractors and other agricultural vehicles blocked entrances to the cement and glass plants in the Derrylin and Ballyconnell area of this frontier region.

As well as support for Quinn there is also a resentment at the Dublin media in the area, a feeling among many that, as local businessman Pádraig Donohoe described it to The Irish Times, local people who have stuck by Mr Quinn have been depicted as “gobshites and Culchies”.

But here in Ballyconnell Mr Donohoe is not squaring for a fight. Instead he’s looking for a resolution that could safeguard jobs that were brought to the area by Mr Quinn’s entrepreneurial and gambling spirit.

He’s well aware of the argument that it was a catastrophic €2 billion punt on Anglo Irish Bank by Mr Quinn that has caused the ructions.

He acknowledges too that he himself has a vested interest in this terrible saga.

He has supermarkets in Ballyconnell and one 10 minutes away in Belturbet in Co Cavan and 15 minutes away in Ballinamore in Co Leitrim employing 150 people.

If Quinn Group should be further wound down, as many local people fear, then he too will suffer, as will his workers.

The pay packets, he adds, that Quinn created in this area over recent decades go well beyond the Quinn Group – and this in an area which before Seán Quinn suffered severe unemployment.

Talks 

Mr Donohoe was not at the protests but he produces a statement from a drawer in his desk on behalf of Quinn Group employees and local business people and community representatives.

He thinks it offers a way out of the current problem.

The local group calls for Mr Quinn’s immediate release from prison and for mediated resolution talks to begin immediately between the Quinn family and the Irish Bank Resolution Corporation (IBRC).

The group wants the disposal of any further assets of the Quinn Group halted; it wants no further “dissipation of assets in Russia or elsewhere by IBRC/Anglo or the Quinn Group” until the conclusion of some independent inquiry.

Perhaps the most far-reaching demand of all is that there should be a “return of the businesses to local management control and an acceptance by all stakeholders that local interests can only be properly represented in the future through the exercise of that local control”.

But do Mr Donohoe and locals believe there could be a role for Mr Quinn?

“Anyone with a brain in his head would know who is the best person to run the Quinn Group. Is it going to be these guys appointed by Anglo Irish Bank or do you put back a man who has 40 years experience and between his . . . management they have 341 years of experience?”

He rejects the view that Mr Quinn was a greedy man.

He believes his detractors just don’t understand the man.

“They say he is a greedy man. Well I am saying every penny he made he ploughed back into the land he came out of.”

The Irish Times also reports that Spain has blocked the contentious appointment of Luxembourg’s central bank governor, Yves Mersch, to a top post in the European Central Bank, intensifying a row over the lack of gender balance in the institution.

The Spanish veto means the allocation of a seat on the ECB executive board, vacant since May, will be decided by EU leaders at a summit in a fortnight.

The manoeuvre was seen in Brussels as a ploy to gain a bargaining chip in talks on Spain’s financial crisis, although Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy may not be able to prevent the leaders from appointing Mr Mersch at the summit.

The European Parliament has voted against Mr Mersch’s appointment on gender grounds but its opinion is not binding on euro zone governments, which control appointments to the ECB upper ranks.

All of the national central bank chiefs who form the ECB governing council are male and so too are all the members of its executive board.

After MEPs voted, the Brussels authorities sought to make the appointment by way of a fast-track procedure in which governments can take a unanimous decision without a meeting between ministers. This process ran aground yesterday when Spain, which had pushed its own candidate, said it would not support Mr Mersch.

European leaders gather in Brussels on November 22nd to agree a seven-year EU budget.

A qualified majority of leaders can appoint Mr Mersch in that forum, so Mr Rajoy would need support from others to block him definitively.

Spain considers it a basic right to have a seat on the ECB board alongside other big powers like Germany, France and Italy. Its male nominee, Antonio Sáinz de Vicuña, head of legal services in the ECB, proved unacceptable to other countries.

Luxembourg’s prime minister, Jean-Claude Juncker, then made his continuation as president of the euro zone finance ministers conditional on Mr Mersch’s nomination.

The Irish Examiner reports that the president of the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) Bertie O’Leary has called on Glanbia shareholders to vote "yes" and pave the way for the creation of Glanbia Ingredients Ireland.

And IFA president John Bryan disclosed a meeting was held in Portlaoise of IFA elected officers in the Glanbia area, to review independent professional reports from Deloitte corporate finance and Eversheds pension experts regarding the key aspects of the Glanbia JV proposals.

He said the assessments were reassuring on the key issues the IFA had asked them to investigate on behalf of farmers. Subsequent to the discussions, the IFA has written to Glanbia seeking clarification on a number of other issues previously raised by the IFA.

The IFA executive council is meeting tomorrow and will be deciding on the association’s position on the Glanbia JV proposals. The IFA hopes to have all matters clarified with Glanbia in advance of this meeting.

Glanbia co-op members will vote on Nov 13 on the proposals by Glanbia whether or not to create Dairy Ingredients Ireland (DII) which will then become a joint venture, Glanbia Ingredients Ireland, which will focus on preparing for the abolition of milk quotas in 2015.

The joint venture will include the assets of DII which generated earnings of €44m before tax in 2011.

In order to fund the purchase, the co-op will sell 3% of its shareholding in Glanbia, taking its shareholding to 51.4%. To go ahead with this portion of the buyout, the co-op would require approval of at least 50% of its members.

Mr O’Leary, whose organisation represents 150,000 individual members, employing 12,000 people in Ireland, and a further 24,000 people overseas, urged his members to vote yes.

"This new joint venture company rebalances the relationship between the co-operative and the plc in a manner that is positive for the co-operative and its members," he said.

He said the farmers and milk producers would gain greater control of Glanbia beyond the farm gate.

"For active milk suppliers who are shareholders in Glanbia, the new model gives greater control and ownership of assets that are of most strategic importance to them in determining their livelihood beyond the farm gate," he said.

"The proposed new joint venture company also provides a potential platform for enabling structural change for the entire milk sector. It has the potential to attract alliances with existing established processing co-operatives that will create further economies of scale and the potential to allow for a more coherent approach to export marketing of dairy products," he added.

Foreign news reviews and more comprehensive coverage of Irish news is available in our Daily News Digest in the Global category on Finfacts Premium.

Check out our subscription service, Finfacts Premium , at a low annual charge of €25 - - if you are a regular user of Finfacts, 50 euro cent a week is hardly a huge ask to support the service.


© Copyright 2011 by Finfacts.com

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