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The Irish Independent reports
that homeowners have been warned it will be up to them to notify Revenue that
they are liable for the new property tax if they do not receive notification
And more than nine out of 10 people are expected
to pay the controversial tax, according to experts. Letters and emails to more than 1.6 million
homeowners are due to be sent from Monday, with details of the due payment.
But any homeowner who does not get a letter will
be liable to contact Revenue themselves, according to the Irish Tax Institute.
"Even if you hear nothing from Revenue and do not
get a letter, you will need to act yourself," said the institute's Una Maguire.
Everyone who owns a home will be required to file
a property-tax return to Revenue. There is a fine of up to ¿3,000 for failing to
Ms Maguire said the way the legislation was
framed put the onus on the taxpayer to correctly assess the tax due.
Those who do get a letter but are not due to pay
the tax -- because they do not own a home -- have just 30 days to tell Revenue
that they are not liable.
It has also emerged that granny flats, home
offices and vacant homes may be liable for the tax. Sheds attached to a property
will come into the reckoning for the tax, except farm and commercial buildings,
the institute said.
People in trouble with their mortgage repayments
will be able to offset some of the interest they are paying on the home loan and
avoid the tax. But this will only apply to those on lower incomes.
The letters, due to go out from Monday, will
include a two-page form to be filled out by the property owner. There will also
be an estimate of the value of the property, guidelines to allow homeowners to
check the value themselves and an identification number for the property.
The identification will remain the same even if
the property is sold. Homeowners will also get a personal identification number.
The letter and the return form will ask people to
put a value on the home, detail the tax due and select from one of six payment
There are 20 valuation bands. Homeowners select
the mid- point of the band their property fits into and multiply that by 0.18pc
to get the tax amount.
Anyone filling out the forms manually will
have to return them by May 7, but those who choose to make a return online and
pay electronically have until May 28 to get their return back to Revenue, the
Irish Tax Institute said.
If people do not pay the tax, Revenue will
use the estimate they have given the property as the amount it expects to
collect. The tax experts said they expected most people to pay the tax as
Revenue has a range of powers to ensure a high level of compliance.
The Irish Independent
also reports that there are fears of further job losses following the sale of
the 'Irish Examiner' and other newspapers in the Thomas Crosbie Holdings (TCH)
The 'Examiner' and the 'Evening Echo' plus
several regional papers and radio stations in the group were bought by a new
company, Landmark Media Investments Ltd, controlled by newspaper executive Tom
Crosbie and backed by his father, Ted, a former director of TCH.
They bought the assets from AIB-appointed
receiver Kieran Wallace of KPMG. That deal had been lined up in advance in a
technique known as a pre-pack restructuring sale.
Twelve printing staff in Cork and Dublin have
already lost their jobs as a result of the deal.
Last night the 'Irish Examiner' was printed by
the company that owns the 'Irish Times' in what is to be an ongoing contract.
A further 76 jobs at the 'Sunday Business Post'
are under threat. It will apply for examinership at the High Court today.
If an interim examiner is appointed, he will have
100 days to find a buyer. If the court rejects the application for an
examinership, the company will go into liquidation.
The Irish Independent has learned that further
job losses are expected at some of the newspapers and radio stations bought by
These will include cuts among some of the 550
staff whose jobs transferred to the new owners after the appointment of the
receiver. The new owners will discuss potential job losses with staff, and are
planning that further cuts will be done on a voluntary basis, according to a
source close to the deal.
One worker, who wished to remain anonymous, said
staff at the 'Irish Examiner' had "been expecting something like this" and were
happy their jobs had been saved.
"It's positive. We see this as a fresh start.
It's the exact same terms and conditions as before. It's business as normal,"
the worker said.
"We hope that our colleagues in the 'Sunday
Business Post' will come through the process."
Cork County Mayor Barbara Murray said the news
that the 'Irish Examiner' had gone into receivership was "a sign of the times".
"The 'Examiner' has been around forever.
It's an institution here and I've no doubt that they will find a way of
surviving," said the Fine Gael councillor.
"I don't think it's going to disappear any
Fianna Fail councillor Terry Shannon said
it was welcome news that most of the jobs were to be saved.
AIB said it had appointed the receiver at
the request of the company itself. The bank is at the front of the queue to be
repaid by the receiver from the cash he gets from the sale.
At the same time, AIB said it is providing
financing for the new company with fresh "refinancing" loans.
The Irish Times reports that
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore marked two years in office
yesterday and listed job creation and dealing with the mortgage crisis as their
primary objectives in the period ahead.
Launching a report on their first two years in
Government yesterday, they said two-thirds of the Programme for Government had
been progressed since they took office in 2011.
Mr Kenny said the Government was not looking for
“claps on the back or credit”, and he praised the “pragmatism, patience,
sacrifice and spirit” of the Irish people. He said the “haemorrhaging” of jobs
had stopped and Ireland’s 12.5 per cent corporate tax rate had been protected.
The Taoiseach added that the Coalition’s main
goal in the next year was to successfully exit the IMF-EU bailout programme
while continuing to reduce borrowing and debt to sustainable levels.
The head of the International Monetary Fund,
Christine Lagarde, has welcomed the progress made by Ireland.
In an interview publised in today’s The Irish
Times, she said: “We want Ireland to be a success,” and added she wanted to see
how the IMF and the Irish authorities could best plan for a successful
conclusion to the programme while making sure there would not be a relapse.
“That is what I am most concerned about,” Ms
“Clearly the world economy avoided collapse last
year and I am very concerned that, by moving into a semi-complacent mood, people
risk a relapse.”
Asked about the risk of a relapse in Ireland, she
said: “Our sense is that it is better to plan than to get caught afterwards with
a need for support down the road.”
At his press conference, Mr Kenny said the doors
of the new personal insolvency agency would be open for business by early
summer. He hoped a legislative strategy to deal with a “lacuna” in the law could
be issued next week, but said it would not lead to large-scale repossessions.
“The challenge for Government is to generate
confidence in the indigenous economy that has been flat for quite a long time,”
the Taoiseach said.
Mr Gilmore said the country had moved from chaos
to stability in two years, with Ireland moving from being a “problem case” in
Europe to being “its most likely success story”.
He said social reforms would be the hallmark of a
modern post-crisis Ireland. The Government would legislate for the X case, hold
a referendum on abolishing the Seanad and put Ireland “on the path to universal
health insurance” this year.
Mr Gilmore said relations between Fine Gael and
Labour were not strained. In normal circumstances, the largest and
second-largest parties would be “looking across the chamber at each other”, but
the Coalition partners had come together at a time of crisis.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the
Government had failed to put pressure on the banks to deal with the mortgage
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams accused Fine Gael
and Labour of “presiding over two years of austerity” and causing “significant
hardship” for citizens.
The Irish Times also reports
that the likely length of the trial of former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Seán
FitzPatrick and two other executives raises issues around how the jury is
selected and retained for such a long period.
At a sitting of Dublin Circuit Criminal Court,
Judge Mary Ellen Ring said the courts must take steps to present a larger than
usual pool of potential jurors in light of the time they will be asked to sit on
the jury for the trial of Mr Fitzpatrick (64), former finance director Willie
McAteer (61) and former managing director of lending Pat Whelan (50).
Judge Ring asked if a better estimate than
previously offered to the court was available for the length of time the trial
may take. None was available. The court has previously heard estimates for the
trial of between three and six months.
“The court is conscious that if two people in a
long trial become unavailable for whatever reason, the jury is in a precarious
position,” Judge Ring said.
“If the jury collapses due to the unavailability
of jurors, an immediate retrial will be a problem.”
It is alleged that before Anglo was nationalised
in 2009, the three accused men permitted the bank to give unlawful financial
assistance, prohibited under company law, to 16 individuals – six members of the
family of businessman Seán Quinn and 10 customers of the bank, known as the
“Maple 10” – to buy Anglo shares.
Their trial is due to start next January.
Mr FitzPatrick also faces charges of failing to
disclose an arrangement between Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building
Society under which the building society loaned him money between 2002 and 2007,
and allegedly deceiving the failed bank’s auditors in relation to his personal
loans over the same period.
The three men were at the brief court hearing
this morning. They have been excused from other similar “mention” hearings –
where formalities around an approaching trial are addressed.
However, they must appear before the court again
on November 1st for a pre-trial hearing, when they are expected to enter a plea.
Mr FitzPatrick, Mr McAteer and Mr Whelan were
three among a larger group of suspects who were all in the body of the courtroom
yesterday to face criminal charges for a range of alleged crimes.
The outlook for the Irish Examiner and its parent media group is positive,
writes Business Editor, Conor Keane
YESTERDAY was a dramatic day in the Irish newspaper industry, as the Irish
Examiner’s parent company, Thomas Crosbie Holdings (TCH) went into receivership.
The historic development was part of a sweeping restructuring of the TCH media
Within hours of receiver Kieran Wallace of KPMG being appointed to TCH, the bulk
of its assets, including newspaper titles, were sold to Landmark Media
Investments Ltd (LMI), which is 100% owned by Tom Crosbie and his father Ted,
for an undisclosed sum.
LMI will now publish all the newspapers that were in the TCH stable, with the
exception of the Sunday Business Post.
The Post will make a High Court application later today to have an examiner
While LMI will keep the Irish Examiner and Evening Echo in the ownership of the
Crosbie family — which has owned the newspapers for over 140 years — the titles
will now be owned by a smaller family grouping. Former TCH chief executive and
chairman Alan Crosbie, and ex-board member Billy Crosbie have chosen not to
become investors in LMI.
Like most media organisations, TCH suffered as a result of the economic downturn
since 2008, when advertising nose-dived in the recession. Similarly, the Irish
Examiner and the Evening Echo occupy high-rent offices in Cork’s Lapp’s Quay,
since the sale of their Academy St offices in 2006.
The once highly acquisitive media group had not made a profit since 2007 and was
unable to reduce bank debts of more that €27m owed to AIB and Ulster Bank.
AIB had its loans secured against the bulk of the group’s other newspaper
titles, all of which also went into receivership yesterday, with the exception
of the Western People; the Nationalist and Leinster Times; the Kildare
Nationalist; the Laois Nationalist; and the Roscommon Herald; which have also
been bought by LMI.
It is expected Ulster Bank, who are owed €7m, will exercise its right to take
control of the Thomas Crosbie Printers (TCP)-owned print premises in the Cork
suburb of Mahon, over which it holds security. The building is leased to
Webprint Concepts, which until yesterday printed all TCH titles, including the
Irish Examiner, Evening Echo, the Sunday Business Post and other regional
Yesterday’s move ends months of speculation about the future of the titles in
the group which also includes the Waterford News and Star; the Enniscorthy Echo;
New Ross Echo, Gorey Echo; and Wexford Echo.
Subject to approval from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI), Landmark
Media Investments Ltd intends to purchase TCH’s shareholding in Waterford radio
stations WLR FM, and Beat 102-103 FM, Cork’s Red FM, and Midwest Radio in Mayo.
TCP, which is insolvent, is to be liquidated. With the receivership of TCH there
will be significant debts due to trade and other unsecured creditors which will
not be paid in full.
The closure of TCP and TCH will result in the immediate loss of up to 12 jobs.
Printing of the titles is now being carried out by the Irish Times at its
Citywest printing facility outside Dublin. Webprint Concepts in Cork has printed
the titles since 2006. Webprint will be among the largest unsecured TCP
creditors — owed close to €1m.
Staff at the newspaper businesses protected under Transfer of Undertakings
regulations which were sold to Landmark Media Investments Ltd will retain their
However, the company is expected to seek further concessions from staff — in a
bid to bring costs into line relative to revenues — in negotiations next month.
The new company’s main banker, AIB, has agreed to provide funding for the
business, including restructuring and specifically identified investments in the
This will include new editorial content management and production systems for
the group’s titles to replace and upgrade its existing systems. It will enable
the introduction of state-of-the-art facilities for digital age multi-platform
publishing, and the implementation of the Irish Examiner’s digital strategy.
The commitment of banking support and investment will be welcome news for staff
following months of unsettling speculation about the future of the Irish
Examiner and its sister titles.
It intensified at the beginning of last month when, out of the blue, former
Green Party leader and one time environment minister John Gormley (@JohnGormley)
tweeted: “Looks like the Examiner will be going into examinership. I hope it
survives. It’s a fine newspaper.”
The company refused at the time to comment publicly on Mr Gormley’s tweet, which
was later deleted from his Twitter timeline.
However, a major shake-up of the TCH and its media assets has been on the cards
for some time. The company has to date sought and received wage cuts of up to
15%, a pension contribution “holiday”, the elimination of a profit share
agreement worth up to €3,000 per person per year, and cuts to expenses, as it
endeavoured to regain profitability.
Similar to many companies with defined benefit pensions, its DB scheme is in
deficit, to the tune of approximately €12m
Last March, staff rejected management’s request for a further 5% pay cut and
since then have been waiting to see what the next move would be. The answer
finally came yesterday.
TCH ending up in receivership is a long way from the heady day Celtic Tiger
years when, under the leadership of managing director Anthony Dinan and chairman
Alan Crosbie, the company was Ireland’s fast growing media organisation
acquiring a newspaper almost every year in a buying spree of media assets
including radio stations.
In 2005, TCH was worth an estimated €350m-€400m when Irish and UK media assets
were selling for spectacular sums.
This was the pinnacle of the Celtic Tiger years and newspaper acquisitions
directly mirrored what was happening throughout the Irish economy, particularly
in the building industry, with seemingly never-ending boom-time spending fuelled
by cheap credit.
In one 2005 deal, the UK’s second largest local newspaper publisher, Johnston
Press, paid €138m for the Leinster Leader Group, which included the Limerick
Leader. Three years previously, TCH pulled off what was considered a coup by
acquiring the Sunday Business Post from Trinity Mirror for €10m, beating off
competition from Rupert Murdoch’s News International.
In 2004, TCH paid €10.3m for the Roscommon Herald and two years later bought the
Wexford Echo group of newspapers from the Buttle family for €15m.
The following year, with increasing UK publisher interest in Irish newspapers,
Mr Dinan was asked if TCH was for sale. He said it was not and stressed the
group’s commitment to expansion: “Rather than be acquired, we are acquisitive.
The healthy results across the group’s portfolio of businesses means that TCH is
well placed to continue the acquisitive path.”
In less than a decade, the company had moved from having three titles, the Irish
Examiner, the Evening Echo and the Waterford News and Star, to owning 18
newspapers, including titles in Northern Ireland and The Irish Post in London.
The group entered 2006 debt free, in large part due to sale of its Irish
Examiner premises in Academy St.
But there were question marks in the industry about TCH’s acquisition strategy,
particularly as the group did not acquire leading market titles.
The group’s acquisition drive resulted in its owners, the three strands of the
Crosbie family, sharing ownership of some of their titles for the first time.
TCH managing director Anthony Dinan was given a shareholding in new
This continued up to 2004 when the Crosbies bought out Mr Dinan’s interests in
numerous newspapers, giving the company 100% ownership of all subsidiaries bar
TCH Recruit Ireland.
As TCH invested millions in acquisitions and their development, some company
insiders were dismayed that there was inadequate editorial investment in the
company’s cash generators, The Irish Examiner and Evening Echo, which were
delivering significant profits each year, until the international and domestic
economy started to turn sour after 2008.
The company has not recorded a profit since the previous year, when it made
after-tax profits of €11.03m on turnover of €113m, with 761 people on its
From entering 2006 debt free, in large part due to the €36m sale of the Irish
Examiner’s Academy St offices, TCH had total bank debt of €27.7m at the start of
Four years later, in May 2010, Anthony Dinan rocked staff when — after being at
the helm since 1995 — he suddenly retired and was replaced by Irish Examiner CEO
That year, TCH wrote down the value of a number of media brands acquired over
the previous 15 years by €30m and recorded a pre-tax loss of €38.2m (2008 €3.5m)
for the 53 weeks in the year ended Jan 3, 2010.
His successor as TCH group CEO, Mr Murphy, moved quickly to close or sell-off
perennial loss making titles, closing The Irish Post and The Kingdom, and
disposing of the Sligo Weekender and the Newry and Down Democrat at significant
Furthermore, he put the TCH flagship headquarters — an imposing former bank on
Cork’s South Mall which cost €3.6m to purchase and another €3m to refurbish — up
He reduced costs further by implementing significant headcount reduction and
relocating other TCH staff into the nearby offices of the Irish Examiner and
The flagship HQ became the location for TCH’s spectacular annual dinner, hosted
by Mr Dinan. Speakers such as humanitarian and rock star Bob Geldof, comedian
John Cleese of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers fame and former British primer
minister John Major were hired to deliver the after-dinner speech.
Controversial author Jeffrey Archer was the celebrity speaker at the last TCH
gala dinner in Mar 2009. The following year, with the recession biting deep and
advertising revenues in the Irish media continuing to fall, the new group CEO
sought further cost reductions and pay cuts.
At a private meeting with workers he outlined how the company was dealing with
its banking debt, its future plans, and that it was seeking substantial costs
cuts from suppliers, including Webprint Concepts, printers of the newspaper
While the dramatic fall in advertising revenues due to the deepening recession
accounted for most of the group’s financial woes, part of its troubles can be
traced back to the decision to outsource the company’s printing in 2006 and the
sale of the Irish Examiner/Evening Echo offices at Lapp’s Quay in Cork city
Over the past 18 months, there were extensive negotiations between TCH and
Webprint to achieve significant reductions in print costs, and while the
printers agreed to some reductions it was considered inadequate by an
increasingly financially troubled TCH.
Similarly, efforts to obtain a rent reduction in its ‘upward only’ leasehold
interest in its Lapp’s Quay offices were unsuccessful. The building which houses
the offices was built by Howard Holdings and is now in Nama.
The poor economic environment continued to make things worse, as the media,
nationally and internationally suffered major reductions in advertising and
In the US and the UK, hundreds of newspapers, including many leading and
long-established titles closed, as readers migrated to their online platforms
based on costly content created by professional journalists, but made available
Similar trends beset the newspaper industry in Ireland, resulting in the closure
of the Sunday Tribune and falling circulation for most print titles. TCH titles
were similarly not immune to the fallout from unprecedented economic decline and
consumer desire for free online content.
Similar to all Irish newspapers, advertising revenues continued to fall and
total company sales fell from €113m in 2007 to €71.8m in 2010, according to the
last set of accounts filed by TCH.
Despite the cost cutting and wage reductions, with the combination of very high
debt levels and contracting revenues, something had to give, and it gave
yesterday with the appointment of Kieran Wallace as receiver to TCH.
However, with the restructuring of the company and the commitment of support
from AIB, group CEO Tom Murphy is confident about the future.
“We have great titles and now we have the opportunity to put them on a strong
financial footing to grow and develop, and meet the many challenges of a
multi-platform media environment,” said Mr Murphy.
New group chairman, Tom Crosbie, said the changes put the business on a firm
“We have some great brands, whether newspapers, radio or online and although the
media industry is highly challenged I know that there is a media future.
While I regret the circumstances that led to this change and indeed the job
losses, the reality is that with this deal we have the ability to turn the
business around and make it great again,” he said.
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