THE Irish economy continued to create jobs in the first few
months of the year but at a slower pace than before.
The number of people in full-time jobs is continuing to grow but the number with
part-time jobs fell in the first quarter of 2014, the Central Statistics Office
Employment grew by just 1,700 in the first three months of the year – a 0.1pc
rise. That compares to 10,600 in the final months of last year.
Experts described the figures as disappointing, but said the underlying picture
remained one of an improving jobs market. They claimed a fall-off in the amount
of part-time work had contributed to the weaker figure, but pointed out that
numbers in full-time jobs were rising too.
Former Anglo Irish Bank chairman Sean FitzPatrick wants the State
to pay his legal fees, estimated at up to €1m, from his recent criminal trial.
Mr FitzPatrick, who will exit bankruptcy next month, was acquitted in March of
engaging in an illegal share support scheme.
Insurers had refused to cover his legal costs for the trial.
But the ex-banker did not apply for free legal aid, even though he is an
Trial judge Martin Nolan will next week hear legal submissions on the matter.
The granting of legal costs in the wake of an acquittal is a discretionary
matter for judges.
In deciding whether to grant or deny legal costs to an acquitted person, judges
can consider a range of matters
including the verdict; the evidence supporting the failed charges, whether the
bringing of the charges can be deemed in any way "oppressive"; and the conduct
of the accused in meeting the charges laid against him.
As Eamon Gilmore joins the two other former party leaders in the
parliamentary party ranks, Labour has a date with fate.
The new Labour leader is to be picked by July 4 and the focus will switch to the
party's 5,000 members, each of whom will have an equal say in that choice.
The names of at least some potential successors were on the corridors of
Leinster House within an hour last night.
There is Social Protection Minister and deputy leader Joan Burton, who brought
displays of ambiguous loyalty to high art in recent times; Public Expenditure
Minister Brendan Howlin, a veteran of many Labour wars; and Junior Health
Minister Alex White, Junior Transport Minister Alan Kelly, and Junior Enterprise
Minister Sean Sherlock.
Businessman Anthony O'Reilly has told AIB he will sell the church
and graveyard on his Castlemartin Estate where his parents and two grandchildren
are buried to meet debts of some €22.6m.
The one-time billionaire, who now lives in the Bahamas, flew into Ireland
yesterday to meet with his advisers after state-controlled AIB asked the
Commercial Court to fast-track debt proceedings against Mr O'Reilly and two of
his investment vehicles.
The former chief executive of Independent News and Media (INM), the publisher of
the Irish Independent, has told AIB he will sell his entire Castlemartin Estate
in Co Kildare consisting of "circa 750 acres of the finest stud land in
The Irish banking sector must share a large portion
of the blame for the property crash and the current housing crisis, due to its
boom-time lending practices and loose interpretation of rules which were
supposed to protect it and its customers from insolvency.
Mortgages in excess of 100 per cent were
routinely handed out by institutions that did not carry out cursory background
checks on buyers terrified that they mightn’t get on “the property ladder” and
willing to hand over outlandish sums.
In early 2007, more than a year before the bubble
burst in late 2008, small terraced homes in Dublin’s north inner city cost
almost half a million euro while Victorian redbricks in southern Dublin suburbs
were selling for more than Berlin palaces.
The latest CSO figures from the Quarterly National Household
Survey are disappointing as they may indicate the boom in employment growth is
running out of puff. We shall see. One quarter’s figure does not a summer make,
so to speak.
There is another aspect to the debate, however. The QNHS figure on employment is
supposed to be a key, reliable figure on which observers of the economy can base
their opinions. However, there has been a difficulty over recent times because
of a change in the way the figure for the agricultural sector is collected and
the CSO figures for agriculture come, therefore, with an associated warning.
Yesterday Paddy Healy brother of the Workers and Unemployed Action Group TD,
Seamus, was among those attending the CSO’s presentation of its figures, and
queried whether the rise in the numbers employed was as strong over the past
year as the agency’s figures suggested.
Tullow Oil, an independent oil & gas, exploration and production
group, has failed to find hydrocarbons at the Gotama well in offshore Norway.
According to the company, which has interests in over 140 exploration and
production licences across 24 countries, exploration at the well did not
encounter reservoir quality sandstones in the Upper Jurassic main target.
Germany’s Angela Merkel expressed regret that populist parties
had done well in EU elections and said it was up to governments in countries
like France to win back voters with policies that foster growth, jobs and
“As for the good results of the populists and the right-wing, it’s remarkable
and regrettable,” the chancellor told a news conference in Berlin on Monday.
“The question is how we win over voters. This is also the case for France,” she
said. “I think a course that focuses on competitiveness, growth and jobs is the
best answer to the disappointment.”
Eurosceptic parties scored major victories in France, Britain, Greece and other
European Union countries yesterday. In Germany, the anti-euro Alternative for
Germany (AfD), which was founded only a year ago, won 7 per cent of the vote.
Dr Merkel said the results were unlikely to have a major impact on the
functioning of institutions like the European Parliament, which will continue to
be dominated by mainstream parties of the centre-right and centre-left.
An action by the family of bankrupt businessman Seán Quinn against the Central
Bank, finance minister, and 10 former board members of Anglo Irish Bank for
multimillion-euro damages over an alleged conspiracy to unlawfully shore up the
share price of Anglo is to be fast-tracked by the Commercial Court.
If the regulator and minister were not involved, Anglo could not and would
not have undertaken €2.34bn loan transactions causing “catastrophic and
permanent” damage to the Quinns and the ultimate collapse of the Quinn Group, it
The family claim the defendants were aware and approved of the making of
€2.34bn illegal loans to Quinn companies between September 2007 and July 2008 to
fund margin calls on contract for difference positions in Anglo shares, causing
substantial damage to the Quinns’ shareholdings in those companies.
Euro Topics: Despite a loss of votes the
conservatives remain the strongest force in the EU Parliament, while right-wing
populist and Eurosceptic parties made massive gains. Ukip and the Front National
emerged as the clear winners in Britain and France. For some commentators
European politics have been shaken to their very core. Others put their hopes in
a revived debate about Europe.
Europe trips itself up: The strong showing of the Eurosceptic parties means
that in future it will be even harder to reach the consensus so important for
the EU, the liberal Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad comments: "The Eurosceptic
parties will be far more present. This is not a pleasant prospect for
governments that are fighting popular scepticism over the EU and the euro. What
carried the EU through the crisis was political will, but in future it will be
far harder to summon up that will. Who will be ready to risk their neck for
Europe? Furthermore, the security environment around Europe has changed
dramatically after Russia's annexation of Ukrainian territory, and before that
with the Arab Spring. Everyone is aware of the need for a strong European
foreign policy. But there are quite a few who don't like the consequence -
namely more Europe."
More friction in the new parliament: The strong performance of the
anti-European and right-wing populist parties in the European elections also has
a positive side, the left-liberal German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:
"For the first time a considerable number of anti-Europeans, including a few
from Germany, will be sitting in the EU Parliament. ... The casual boredom with
which the European elections and the European Parliament had (wrongly) been
viewed up to now is over. Europe will have to defend itself at the very heart of
its democratic centre against those who despise it. This will be strenuous, but
perhaps also salutary. ... The new parliament has the chance to show all the
ignorant (within it and outside it) what it is capable of. There will be more
friction in the parliament. Friction generates warmth. If it turns out to be
warmth for Europe, it would indeed be a trick of history."
Only Brexit can stop Ukip now: The Eurosceptic Ukip party won the European
elections in the UK with around 29.5 percent of the vote. Now the other parties
will only be able to beat Ukip by adopting its goals, columnist Melanie Phillips
fears in the conservative daily The Times: "Even if Ukip disintegrates after
this high-water mark, this voter revolt will not fade away. Concerns about mass
immigration and the erosion of UK self-government extend beyond Ukippers to
supporters of other parties. Public alienation from politics will continue until
and unless Britain leaves the EU. ... Unfortunately for the three main parties,
the only way to begin to regain voters' trust is to advocate the one thing they
cannot countenance. To destroy Ukip, they have to adopt its core aim. That is
the paradox that now traps them."
Front National virus spreading: The right-wing populist Front National
outshone the traditional parties in France, winning almost 25 percent of the
vote. For the left-liberal French daily Libération, only a dialogue between
politicians and citizens can renew people's belief in democracy: "Even though it
had already been predicted, the victory of the Front National is a shock that
will profoundly shake up France and Europe. The FN's success is proof of the
party's ability to mobilise voters, its deep roots in the community and the
durability of its xenophobic ideas. ... But the shock wave created by the FN has
transcended borders. Combined with the good performances of other Europhobic
parties in Denmark, Austria and Britain, the strong showing of the FN
constitutes a real threat to the idea of Europe. The virus that has contaminated
France for years threatens to spread quickly in a Union in which anger at
austerity and fear of foreigners are growing day by day. Only a true dialogue
between the democratic parties and the voters who are in process of rejecting
the very idea of democracy may overcome this evil."
Lithuanians in love with their
president: Lithuania's acting president Dalia Grybauskaitė was re-elected on
Sunday in the second round of the country's presidential elections. Grybauskaitė
simply enjoys the blind love of the people, the web portal 15min comments:
"For many voters she went from being a bureaucrat [EU commissioner for financial
planning and the budget, 2004 - 2009] to an icon. Everyone worships her
regardless of their political convictions or personal experiences, be they
ex-gulag prisoners or former collaborators. How to explain this? ... The two
rounds of voting have shown that voters are blind with infatuation. ... Five
years ago, like now, thousands of love-drunk liberal and conservative voters
went to the polls to elect Grybauskaitė because they were firmly convinced she
was on the right. ... In the same way, people on the left voted for her because
they see in her a protector of the poor."