TAOISEACH Enda Kenny is eyeing up the Education Minister's
position for Fine Gael, and Tanaiste Joan Burton wants an extra cabinet post for
the Labour Party as the coalition talks begin this morning.
Mr Kenny and Ms Burton will meet in Government Buildings to begin discussions on
a cabinet reshuffle and the prioritisation of policies.
Among the Labour demands are a second year of free child care for 65,000
children, the Jobs Minister's portfolio and measures to ease the tax burden on
low and middle income families.
The allocation of ministries was last night expected to be the area of greatest
conflict between the two sides.
"The most contentious area is what ministries will go where. That will not be
easy," a Labour source said.
Negotiations have taken place between Mr Kenny's economic adviser Andrew
McDowell and Ms Burton's incoming Chief of Staff Ed Brophy throughout the
Ahead of the talks, Ms Burton sent a dossier outlining the priorities that
Labour wants to see in Government to Mr Kenny.
"In terms of the policy stuff, Fine Gael are not frightened by what we are
asking for," said one Labour source.
CRÈCHE fees in Ireland, now costing over €750 per child per
month, have been confirmed as among the highest in Europe.
And Ireland is one of only two European countries where childcare workers are
not required to have minimum qualifications.
Average childcare costs for under one-year-olds now stand at €756 per month –
and for older children, the figure is €727.
The findings are likely to increase pressure on the Government – in light of
various controversies that have dogged the industry – to implement greater
controls and ensure staff are properly qualified.
They also provide further evidence that meeting the monthly crèche bill is
putting a huge dent in the after-tax income of young couples. The latest
Eurostat findings show that average monthly fees for early childhood care and
education are most expensive in Ireland, the UK, Luxembourg and Switzerland.
China's economic growth quickened in the second quarter from the
previous three months, but further modest government support measures will still
be needed, Premier Li Keqiang said on Monday.
Speaking at a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is
visiting Beijing, Li said the Chinese economy still faces downward pressure and
that the government will increase its usage of targeted measures to boost
His cautiously optimistic remarks may boost market confidence ahead of China's
second-quarter economic report due on July 16. Analysts polled by Reuters
expects China's growth for the April-June period to have steadied at 7.4
"China's economic performance in the second quarter has improved from that in
the first quarter. However, we cannot lower our guard against downward
pressures," Li said.
"We will keep up our composure and not adopt strong stimulus. Instead, We will
increase the strength of targeted measures," the premier said.
To lift China's flagging economic growth, which hit an 18-month low of 7.4
percent in the first quarter of 2014, authorities have cut taxes, ordered
regional governments to speed up spending and reduced the amount of cash that
some banks have to hold as reserves.
THE Free Legal Advice Centres says it is "frustrating" that
Ireland's new personal insolvency regime is "serving those with money better
than the poor" it was aimed at helping.
The FLAC has also raised concerns over the country's unregulated debt collectors
and a lack of State-funded legal advice for vulnerable debtors negotiating with
"powerful, well-resourced" banks.
Calls to the FLAC's national telephone information line rose 10pc last year,
according to its annual report launched today by the Chief Justice Mrs Justice
More than 27,500 people were assisted by the agency's dedicated telephone team
and 500-strong volunteer corps of barristers and solicitors last year, an
increase of some 6.2pc over the same figures in 2012.
Although family law queries count for one-in-five calls, FLAC says there has
been an increase in queries in certain areas including credit and debt calls,
which are up by almost 10pc.
The European Commission’s inquiry into Luxembourg’s tax treatment of Microsoft
looks set to involve some of the company’s key Irish operations, company filings
in the EU’s smallest member-state indicate.
Microsoft Luxembourg Sarl, one of four Microsoft subsidiaries in the Duchy, is
in turn a subsidiary of an Irish Microsoft company that has a €15 billion
turnover. The Irish company received royalty payments of €368 million from the
Luxembourg operation in its most recent financial year.
It was reported last week that the commission’s inquiries into the tax treatment
of multinationals that may offend the union’s state aid rules are to include
Microsoft in Luxembourg. It had already been reported that similar inquiries
were taking place into the treatment of Apple in Ireland, Starbucks in the
Netherlands and Fiat in Luxembourg.
Company filings in Luxembourg for Microsoft Luxembourg Sarl show it has very
significant financial dealings with two key Microsoft subsidiaries here.
The mood music surrounding the needs of the Irish economy has changed
significantly in the past year as the work of the Central Statistics Office has
shown a pattern of rising full-time employment.
The improving mood received a boost last week when the half-year exchequer
figures showed that tax receipts were €500 million ahead of target and data from
the Central Statistics Office showed strong economic growth.
Not only that, but new rules for estimating the size of EU economies had a
particularly large impact on the perceived size of the Irish one, which in turn
positively affects our debt-to-GDP ratio and the size of the deficits we can
have in our public finances without incurring Europe’s ire.
Dublin City Council wants to address the city’s housing shortage by resuming its
partnership with property developers and providing social and private houses on
The council has identified more than 30 hectares (74½ acres) at five vacant
sites around the city which, it said, could provide large numbers of houses in
the short to medium term.
However, while it has “significant land banks”, it has not been able to raise
capital funding to build houses since 2008, the year the public private
partnership (PPP) housing regeneration deals with developer Bernard McNamara
Three of the five sites are around the city’s north fringe. The other two are to
the west of the city in Ballyfermot and Cherry Orchard. The council is to seek
expressions of interest from developers for what it describes as “housing
John McManus: The Germans love plans. It’s their strength and their weakness. Or
at least that is the stereotype, and like most stereotypes it has at least a
grain of truth in it.
No surprise then to hear that the German Bundestag finance committee, which
visited Ireland a few weeks ago, was troubled to find that we appear to have no
long-term plan for economic growth over and above giving tax breaks to
multinationals to invest here.
In reality, the only thing that is surprising here is that the committee
chairman, Green MP Gerhard Schick, and his colleagues, thought we might actually
have some sort of plan.
Economic optimism among Irish-based investors has hit a four-year high, with 82%
saying they are confident the economy will continue growing and a similar
percentage upbeat about their own financial stability, according to a new
According to RaboDirect’s latest investor barometer, 85% of Irish investors are
confident about the outlook for the global economy, while 66% say they are
favourably disposed to the global stock market and see there being value to be
found in stocks.
The RaboDirect investor survey represents significant recovery from the all-time
low of 2010 when only 10% of Irish investors expressed confidence in the
“We’ve seen a sustained rebound in investor confidence in the global economy
since the beginning of 2013 and this has now been matched by a strong upturn in
confidence in the Irish economy during the first half of this year. This is in
stark contrast to the lows seen at the end of 2010 when Ireland applied for
external assistance from the EU/IMF,” according to the online bank’s investment
manager, Killian Nolan.
Euro Topics: Investigate torture by Spanish army
in Iraq: A Spanish military court on Thursday ordered that an elite soldier
accused of torturing a prisoner of war during his 2004 deployment in Iraq be
remanded in custody. The crime was filmed and published by Spanish media in
2013. The investigation will help improve the image of the armed forces, the
left-liberal Spanish daily El País comments: "In any case it's good that this
episode is being investigated. It is a very serious crime. Under Article 76 of
the military penal code serious injuries, the torture or inhumane treatment of
prisoners of war can be punished with 10 to 25 years in prison. A case like this
should not be allowed to tarnish the excellent image of the armed force in
recent decades. ... A thorough investigation of the case will no doubt boost the
armed forces' image and public standing."
Honest Belgian citizens victims of speculators: The European Commission
ruled on Thursday that the financial guarantees given by the Belgian state to
investors in Arco, the financial arm of the ACW trade union, in the course of
the nationalisation of Dexia Bank were illegal. But Arco's approximately 800,000
savers can't be accused of any wrongdoing, the left liberal Belgian daily De
Morgen points out: "For a fair solution, the worst one can accuse the Arco
savers of is being naïve and gullible. These people are not speculators but
honest fathers and housewives who in many cases put most of their savings into
products their trade union assured them were safe, like bonds or savings
accounts. In actual fact these were high risk investments. Those at Arco and ACW
who sold these products to the customers were at best pretty dumb, probably
dazzled by the possibilities of the financial sector, and at worst downright
swindlers. But no one is talking about that."
Greens have botched Berlin refugee drama: Around 40 refugees will be allowed
to stay for the time being in a school in Berlin's Kreuzberg district, which
they have been occupying for months. Prior to the announcement they had
threatened to jump from the roof of the building if the police tried to evacuate
them. The Green Party, which leads the district's local government, has made a
mess of the whole affair, the left-liberal Austrian daily Der Standard writes:
"When the refugees arrived in the fall of 2012, the district wanted to make
concessions. The men and women were allowed to set up a camp in a park and move
into the school in the winter. Everything was tolerated by the Green Party and
its local mayor. What was overlooked, however, was that this would encourage
certain hopes. The refugees believed they'd be able to stay. They couldn't - and
didn't want to - understand that the district didn't have the power to grant
them a right of residence. ... These people who'd lost everything finally
resorted to a radical solution and threatened to kill themselves. The Green
Party should never have let things go that far."