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
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
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
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.
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
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
Some people might find that fanciful but not
Dozens of people, some of them Quinn Group
workers staged half-day protests in the area in support of Seán Quinn and his
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
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
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.
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
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
He believes his detractors just don’t understand
“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
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
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.
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