Monday, 30 April 2012

IBEC Gives Its support to the YES vote - more reason to vote NO!

The business lobby group Ibec has unveiled a poster campaign calling for a Yes vote in the fiscal treaty referendum in Dublin city centre this morning.
The posters say: "Secure Ireland's Future". Ibec director general Danny McCoy said he believed a No vote would increase the amount of time Ireland would spend in austerity and would hamper recovery, while a Yes vote would give confidence and certainty. "What Ireland needs now is growth," he said.

Mr McCoy said people making decisions about investment in Ireland were "a little bit bemused I suppose that we would be risking our access to
markets by even contemplating a No vote".

He said there was no need for scaremongering, but he believed a Yes vote would send a very positive signal.

Ibec president Julie O'Neill said a Yes vote would drive growth and recovery in the economy but a No vote would increase uncertainty
and increase the cost of servicing the State's debt.

"Driving Ireland's recovery is very important, and Europe is a very important part of that," Ms O'Neill said. "A No vote would be a dangerous step into the unknown that would leave Ireland on the sidelines of Europe and add to our economic difficulties."


HOME heating oil distributors in Co Donegal are experiencing a massive surge in demand ahead of a new tax bombshell for struggling families which comes into force next Wednesday.

The recent cold weather and another increase in prices at midnight last night has forced prices up further.
The Government announced in Budget 2012 that carbon tax was increased by €5 to €20 per tonne of CO2 emitted on fossil fuels.

The increase applied to petrol and diesel from last December.

But the increase will apply from next Wednesday, May 1, to kerosene, Marked Gas Oil, Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG), fuel oil and natural gas.

It means an extra €15 tax will be slapped on 1000 litres of home heating oil.
Last night prices rose another €12 for the same amount.

The average price of 500 litres in a survey was €470.

With the carbon tax and latest increases, some distributors admit that could break the €500 barrier within days – €1 per litre.

That would mean the price doubling in the past five years.

One distributor told us: “People can’t afford to buy huge amounts of oil anymore. Most of my customers are buying 100 litres or 200 litres at a time because it has become more expensive.

“A lot of families were hoping to squeeze through until the end of the summer but the recent cold weather has led to an increase in demand.

“Some customers have said they have ordered now to beat the tax increase next week and that has also pushed up demand in the past three or four days.”

The carbon tax does not apply to solid fuels, so there will be no increases for peat or coal.

Austerity measures are devastating job creation, says UN body

A UNITED NATIONS agency has criticised austerity measures, saying that in their current form they are hampering economic growth and job creation.
‘World of work report 2012′ by the International Labour Organization (ILO) described the global employment situation as alarming.
It says that around 50 million jobs which had existed before the economic crisis are no longer around, and that the pursuit of austerity measures by many governments especially in advanced economies is having a devastating impact on the job market.
The ILO also says that austerity has failed to reduce fiscal deficits and the measures have “to a large extent been counter-productive” – and could actually lead to another recession.
“The narrow focus of many Eurozone countries on fiscal austerity is deepening the jobs crisis and could even lead to another recession in Europe”, said Mr. Raymond Torres, director of the ILO Institute for International Labour Studies and lead author of the report. He added:
Countries that have chosen job-centred macroeconomic policies have achieved better economic and social outcomes. Many of them have also become more competitive and have weathered the crisis better than those that followed the austerity path. We can look carefully at the experience of those countries and draw lessons.
Many jobseekers in developed economies are becoming demoralised and losing skills, the ILO warned, while it credited Brazil, Indonesia and Uruguay with improving employment levels and the quality of that employment through well-designed employment and social policies.
“Globally, long-term unemployment rates have increased much more in advanced economies compared to developing economies,” the report says. “In half of the advanced economies, more than 40 per cent of the unemployed are long-term, that is unemployed for more than 12 months. The long-term unemployment rate has increased most significantly in Denmark, Ireland, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States since 2007.”
“The presence of a large proportion of longterm unemployed could result in huge economic and social costs,” it warns.
The report recommends job stimulus and social policies to reach employment targets, saying that fiscal stability “should not be an end in itself but the means to achieve a quicker and more equitable economic and labour market recovery”.

Gilmore: Ireland could apply to IMF for money even if treaty rejected

The Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has said Ireland could apply to the IMF for a second bailout even if the country votes against the EU Treaty referendum.

But he said he does not know if the IMF would give Ireland money or how much it might cost.

Mr Gilmore made the comments as the Labour Party's official campaign calling for a 'Yes' vote in the May 31 referendum got underway.

The Environment Minister Phil Hogan will sign the order for the referendum today and campaigning will being in earnest.

The Tánaiste was flanked by his deputy leader, Minister Joan Burton and TD Dominic Hannigan for the party's official campaign launch just a day after the 'Yes' side became embroiled in a row over access to funds in the event of a second bailout.

An article in the Sunday Times said the IMF could lend to Ireland even if the Treaty is rejected, despite the fact that Ireland would be denied access to the European bailout fund, one of the main selling points for the Treaty as far as the Government is concerned.

But Mr Gilmore has said the news has not made life more difficult for those advocating a 'Yes' vote.

Fianna Fáil has also come out in support of the Treaty, but TD Eamon O'Cuiv has again defied the party and told Radio na Gaeltachta that he is advising people to vote 'No'.

Mr Gilmore said he takes Fianna Fáil's support very seriously, but is "unsurprised" by Deputy O'Cuiv's different view. 

Read more:

Ó Cuív breaks ranks to advocate No vote in Fiscal Compact

FIANNA FÁIL TD and former deputy leader Éamon Ó Cuív has formally broken ranks from his party to advocate a No vote in the Fiscal Compact referendum.
Speaking on Raidió na Gaeltachta this morning, Ó Cuív said his stance on the treaty was clear – and that it had specifically cost him the deputy leadership of his party.
Describing the deal as a very bad one for Ireland, Ó Cuív said arguments from supporters of the treaty – that there was no option but to ratify it, if Ireland needed access to more bailout funds – were weak.
Ó Cuív told the Adhmhaidin show that a No vote against the fiscal compact would lead to the appraisal of the European Stability Mechanism treaty, which is due to be ratified by Ireland in the Oireachtas in June pending a Yes result in the referendum.
He added that it was becoming “clearer and clearer” that people around Europe were opposed to the treaty, and that Ireland should reflect on this when it held a public vote on it.
A No vote from Ireland would be symptomatic of a divide between Europe’s bigger and smaller countries, Ó Cuív said, and would probably prompt a renegotiation of the Fiscal Compact and ESM Treaties to be more favourable towards smaller ones.
The Galway West TD further argued that there were “many other choices” for how Ireland could seek external funding if it needed to.
The former social protection minister went on to argue that Ireland would be unable to abide by the terms of the treaty – which requires countries to limit their budget deficits, and work to reduce their government debts – unless a deal was struck on reforming its banking debts.
His remarks were followed by those of party leader Micheál Martin, who told Today with Pat Kenny that it was “important for the Irish people, in my view, that we vote yes.
“I don’t see any upside at all from voting No… if you vote No, you run the risk of a more accelerated case of austerity than we’re currently experiencing, because you’re creating an insecure and uncertain scenario.”
Martin said Ireland was currently borrowing not only to cover its Budget deficit but also to service its previous debts, and that access to such borrowing could be severely damaged by a No vote.
Martin also distanced himself from Ó Cuív’s suggests, first articulated in an interview with the Connacht Tribune last week, that Sinn Féin would appear to be a natural coalition partner for Fianna Fáil if it was ever to return to government.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Noonan rejects counter-claims on access to IMF funds

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has said that comments made by an IMF spokesperson in an article in today's Sunday Times were misrepresented.

The article stated that Ireland could apply to the agency for another bailout if required, regardless of how the country votes in the Fiscal Treaty referendum.

But in a statement this afternoon, Minister Noonan said the IMF has made it clear in negotiations with Ireland that unilateral assistance will not be given to Eurozone countries.

He also says the Fund will only contribute to a bailout if Europe takes the lead, and that its contribution would depend on the amount coming from the EU.

Minister Noonan says if Ireland votes No in the referendum, we will not have access to European Stability Mechanism (ESM) funds, which will be the only source for a bailout when the current Irish programme ends.

However Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has accused the Government of risking the state's re-entry to the bond markets by "creating confusion" about future access to emergency funding.

“More and more people and organisations are realising that our access to European funding is not the real issue here because it is within the power of the Government to prevent us being excluded from ESM if there is a No vote," Deputy McDonald said.

“Today we see the IMF statement that a No vote would not prevent us applying for its funds if we need them in future.

"The European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) is also available to us up until the middle of next year," she added.

"The government is trying to distract people with these threats about funding, while the real issue is putting this clause into the constitution to impose austerity into the future and to give power over our economy to the EU."

Meanwhile Micheál Martin said the Government has been "too slow off the blocks" when it comes to campaigning for a Yes vote in the EU Fiscal Treaty referendum.

The Fianna Fail leader made his remarks after an opinion poll released today shows that 18% percent of people still haven't made up their minds about which way they will vote on May 31.

The survey of voters also shows a slight increase in those that will vote against the treaty.

Mr Martin says the coalition parties still haven't got a clear message together.

"I think they have been too slow off the blocks," he said.

"I think they have not provided sufficient information quickly and in time.

"They have also failed to pull together a simple, straightforward message in relation to why people should vote Yes."

Read more:

FG pledges to 'put the frighteners' on electorate

The shambolic Government referendum campaign has been pushed into further chaos in the wake of claims that a key Fine Gael campaign strategy will be to "put the frighteners on the electorate'' if it fears that there is a real danger that the referendum may be lost.
In the wake of a top secret FG party meeting, astonished TDs and senators told the Sunday Independent they had been informed by the party's referendum director, Simon Coveney, that "the Government would prefer to win the referendum by being nice but if necessary we will change tack''.
One party grandee told the Sunday Independent: "We couldn't believe it when Simon said if the campaign is not going well after the first week we [Fine Gael] are going to have to put the frighteners on the public and really spell it out,'' and added, "They have really lost contact with the voters if they think Simon's 'we'll be nice but if necessary we will be nasty' line will work."
In spite of the bullish stance of Mr Coveney, concern is growing within a large section of the Fine Gael party that the "doomed'' referendum on the fiscal compact will be "decisively beaten''.
The Fine Gael 'strategy' will also come as a surprise to its Labour party partners who are already deeply unimpressed by a series of FG blunders in recent weeks over water meters and household charges.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent, one Labour source close to the heart of Government claimed: "Any conversations we have had with our Coalition partners have centred on our intention to run a clear and positive campaign."
In an implicit rebuke of any plan to put the "frighteners" on the electorate, top level sources said: "People want to hear the truth; gross exaggerations by either side will not be believed by the voters."
However, senior party figures also noted that Labour has a "definite strategy to go aggressively after the 'No' campaign if they indulge in misrepresentations and scare tactics" and vowed to "hammer any attempts by Sinn Fein to twist the truth".
One senior figure slammed the "Sinn Fein version of Section 31 which, if Sinn Fein had its way, would silence Patrick Honohan and selectively quote and censor top economists" and warned, "just like Fianna Fail in the past, when it comes to this campaign, Sinn Fein is putting the interests of the party above those of the country".
Labour's plans for a "clear campaign and a positive message" are, however, in real danger of being scuppered by its partners.
In a sign of real concern, last week the Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Mr Coveney attempted to energise their TDs and senators via a series of pre-breakfast meetings with Mr Kenny and an unprecedented two-hour presentation by the Agriculture Minister at the parliamentary party meeting.
Mr Coveney's "put the frighteners on the public" stance was slammed by TDs as being "an utterly dumb thing to say" and "stupid politics".
One politician noted: "It really is stupid politics, this 'we're going to be nice but if nobody is on the train at the end of week one we'll get nasty for week two' will only alienate the voters."
In an astonishing confessional moment revealing the extent of terror sweeping through the top ranks of the Government, several Fine Gael TDs told the Sunday Independent that Mr Coveney had also claimed that if the referendum was defeated, the Government would be "damaged and demoralised coming into the summer and facing very little political certainty".
Meanwhile, at the series of pre-breakfast meetings, Mr Kenny told his TDs that if the referendum was not passed the Government "would lose its moral legitimacy and its massive mandate".

Highlights of the week

The included images and video`s sum up the week, a week of government spin and propaganda in trying to urge us to vote yes.

As expected the lies have begun with the message stability, jobs, recovery being pushed out by the government.  Of course this referendum has nothing to do with any of those 3 key words, in fact its all about austerity.  One would think that the Irish would be capable of electing a government that could balance the nations books and create growth. According to our government we cant and because we cant we must vote Yes in the coming referendum to have laws and rules imposed on us to FORCE an Irish government to keep within budgets.

It would be great if Irish people could see beyond the spin and corruption that flows through our government, their high wages whilst urging us to take the pain, the cuts to disabled children and the water meter scandal.  What is sure is that eventually they will run out of things to cut, what then will they do? Will they tackle the highest public servants creaming it at the top, will they look at their own wages and come to the conclusion that they earn far more than most other EU countries or will they look at the pensions of those who destroyed the country?  Whatever they do they cant do much more to those at the very bottom of life.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Red C poll results

Here are the results of a new opinion poll conducted by Red C for The Sunday Business Post.
Fine Gael: 32% (-2)
Sinn Féin: 19% (+1)
Fianna Fail: 17% (+1)
Labour: 14% (-1)
Independents: 18% (+1)
Yes: 47% (-2)
No: 35% (+2)
Don't Know: 18%!story/Home/News/Red+C+poll+results/id/89127228-1884-f9c1-6681-36ef14647622

SBP poll shows slight drop in favour of Fiscal Treaty

A new poll out tomorrow shows that voters are set to pass the European Fiscal Treaty at the end of May.

However the Sunday Business Post Red C survey does show a small drop in support for the 'Yes' side since last month.

This latest poll shows that, while there is still substantial opposition to the treaty, some 47% of voters say they will vote in favor of it.

A further 35% claim they will vote against it, while 18% say they are still undecided.

When the undecideds are excluded the 'Yes' lead the 'No' by 58% to 42%.

This is a small change from last month, showing a 2% gain for the 'No' side, but it comes as the main government parties prepare to launch their campaign for a 'Yes' vote next week.

Read more:

Burton says EU fiscal treaty to be 'safety net' for Ireland

The Government parties will spend about €500,000 on the fiscal treaty referendum campaign, it emerged at a joint Fine Gael and Labour event advocating a Yes vote this morning.
Fine Gael's director of elections, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, estimated his party would spend approximately €300,000, while Labour will spend between €100,000 and €200,000.
Labour's director of elections, Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton, said it would be "foolish" for Ireland not to have access to additional funding if required.
"I would say to people, why reject a safety net or insurance policy in relation to accessing funds?" she said.
Ms Burton said a No vote "might bewilder overseas investors". She said Labour and Fine Gael would be working closely to ensure members of the public got the information they required about the treaty.
"People will meet somebody from Fine Gael, somebody from Labour, who will talk to them about the treaty," she said.
Ms Burton said as Ireland made what she descibed as an "orderly exit" from the IMF, it needed "friendly support". She added: "I suppose in a way you might call it a safety net or water wings."

Paul Murphy MEP questions the Taoiseach on the Austerity Treaty

15 jobs to go as Oatfield factory to leave Donegal

THE OATFIELD SWEETS factory in Donegal is to close with the loss of 15 jobs.
The company’s owner Zed Candy today confirmed it was moving production of the sweets from Letterkenny, where they have been in production for the best part of a century, to a factory in the UK.
The Oatfield operation has been in Donegal since 1927, when Ira and Haddon McKinley began production as Mayfield Confectionery at a shop in Letterkenny.
Later changing its name to Oatfield after a naming dispute with another confectioner, the company ceased production of wholesale sweets in 1960, concentrating on selling only Oatfield products.
The company is best known for its production of the Emerald toffee caramels, as well as its Colleen Assortment selection and Orange Chocolate products.
The company had cut 30 jobs last August and the remaining 15 positions will now be cut in four weeks’ time. It is understood that some of the staff at the plant have up to 40 years’ service.
Fears for the remaining jobs were heightened last month when it was reported that supermarket chain Lidl was in talks to buy the factory site.

Even traditional Irish sweet companies are getting out of the country, what does this say about the state of our country?

73% in Donegal fail to pay €100 levy

Latest figures on the household charge show that Co Donegal is the biggest rebel county with 73% of homeowners not having registered for the controversial household charge.
Government efforts to track down homeowners refusing to pay the household levy moved a step further this week with new rules agreed on the sharing of personal data details with collectors.

The Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) — the body collecting the charge for the department — will now prepare to cross-check details of those who paid and did not pay with the Revenue Commissioners, the Department of Social Protection, and electricity suppliers as well as the Private Residential Tenancies Board.

Latest figures show that in Co Donegal, just 17,408 registered to pay the charge out of an estimated 65,331 estimated as liable to pay.

It also shows that as of Tuesday, 63% of householders in Galway had not paid the charge, while in Co Cork this figure stood at 61%.

In Cork City, 58% have not paid up. In Roscommon, the non-compliance figure was particularly high at 66%.

The most obedient local authorities appear to be in the Dublin area, with 66% of homeowners in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown paying up and a further 52% in Dublin City.

In Fingal, 50% of householders have paid the charge. In Co Kerry, 61% of people have decided not to fork out the required €100 while in Limerick county the figure is roughly similar.

In Limerick City, 58% of people haven’t paid up.

In total across the country, 685,442 have paid the charge out of the estimated 1.6m liable.

Environment Minister Phil Hogan has warned that local authorities will lose out on funds if there is a shortfall in the collection.

Anyone who doesn’t pay the €100 charge before the end of September will have to fork out an additional €10.

Those who don’t pay until between October and the end of March next year will have to pay an extra €20 charge.

Householders who don’t pay until after Apr 1 will have to pay €130.

Read more:

€100m Cork land sold for just €7m by Nama

A 450-acre landbank fringing Cork City and assembled at a cost of over €100m is being sold by Nama for about €7m.
Political and property commentators, as well as other prospective bidders, have queried the speed of the sale of the land between Douglas, on the southside of the city, and Carrigaline, given that it was never on the open market.

The land had been earmarked as a new location for Douglas Golf Club. The club was given a non-refundable €5m as part of the deal to redevelop the golf club as a housing development. 

Read more:

Austerity making Ireland competitive - Noonan

This is an old news report from last month but we think its important to highlight  and remind people of it.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan has given an upbeat assessment of the Irish economy, saying that if the world economy rises Ireland's economy would "take off like a rocket."
This was because the austerity policies of the past three years had made the country "so competitive", he said.
Mr Noonan was speaking after ringing the bell to mark the opening of European stock markets at the Euronext/NYSE stock exchange in Paris.
The Minister for Finance predicted that Ireland would have real growth rates of 2% in 2013, but he added: "If the world economy takes off you can add another two point something on it."
Distinguishing "real" growth and "nominal" growth, he said: "The real growth, especially in SMEs is what drives the economy and what creates jobs, but the two go together."
Nominal growth is normally higher if inflation rises, because inflation increases the volume of tax receipts.
"Inflation has gone up a little bit, so it looks as if inflation is at 2%. I always look at how you put budgets together, so you start with your inflation rate and then you put on growth," he explained.
"Nominal growth is the driver of tax receipts and my primary job is to get the fiscal balance in place, so I'm working for nominal growth," Mr Noonan said.
Mr Noonan said that Ireland's competitiveness level had increased by 16% due to the effect of austerity policies, however painful these policies were.
In a speech to Euronext/NYSE Mr Noonan said Irish exports were "surging to record levels on the back of a significant bound in our national competitiveness."
"Ireland is now Europe's best project for a programme country to return to the bond market, which is what we intend to do in 2012/2013."
According to the latest Troika forecast, the Irish economy will grow by 0.5% of GDP this year.
In its latest quarterly review in January, the Irish Central Bank has said that Ireland's competitiveness level continued to improve, but that it was partly explained by the decline of the euro against the currencies of our major trading partners. The report also cautioned that the decline in wages had slowed.

Noonan almost halves Budget projection for economic growth in 2012

  Didn't we just publish a news report claiming Mr Kenny our glorious leader thinks we are going to have some of the best growth in Europe?

It was only last month Noonan told us,

THE GOVERNMENT has formally lowered its expectations of growth in the Irish economy for 2012, nearly halving its original projection published in last December’s Budget.
The latest Stability Programme Update, published this evening, sees the Department of Finance revise downward its expected growth in Irish GDP, from 1.3 per cent in the Budget to a more modest 0.7 per cent.
The report also projects growth of 2.2 per cent in 2013, and an average of 3 per cent for 2014 and 2015, by which time Ireland is expected to have brought its Budget deficit within 3 per cent of its GDP.
This is in comparison to the EU-IMF projections of 0.5 per cent growth for 2012, 2 per cent in 2013, 2.5 per cent in 2014, and 2.8 per cent in 2015.
The government’s update outlines that general government debt will peak at 120.3 per cent of GDP by 2013 – just over double the amount permitted by the terms of the Fiscal Compact – before reducing to 117.4 per cent by 2015.
After this point, Ireland will have three years to meet the Fiscal Compact’s target of keeping the Budget deficit within 0.5 per cent, and will be expected to knock one-twentieth off its debt levels every year.
Publishing the document this evening, Noonan put speculation of a potential ‘mini-Budget’ to bed by insisting Ireland would meet its deficit target of 8.6 per cent of GDP this year.
“Based on all of this information there is no change to the budgetary adjustment for the 2013-2015 period and our plans remain as set out in the Medium Term Financial Statement published in November 2011,” he said.
“We know that a sustainable public finance position is in the interest of all citizens, as it ensures that the State has the resources to pay for essential public services, such as health, social protection and education.”

Less than a million properties registered for household charge

Good luck trying to get more money out of us!

LESS THAN ONE million properties in the country have been registered for the controversial household charge nearly a month after the deadline for the flat tax with still less than half of the money the government expected to generate from it having been processed.
Figures released yesterday by the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA) showed that in total, the State has received €71,225,244 from the payment of the €100 tax including from households who have been paying the €11 fine imposed after the 31 March deadline.
The LGMA estimates that a further €18.9 million of postal applications are still to be processed and says that with waivers (which account for around 15,100 properties) included some 930,289 properties are now registered for the household charge.
This means that just under 125,000 properties are estimated to have been registered since the 31 March deadline passed last month.
The majority of payments have been through credit or debit cards online – €52.6 million – followed by people paying by cheques, postal orders or bank drafts – €11.3m.
Payment by direct debit online accounts for €3.8m worth of payments followed by €3m through the local authority offices and €406,600 through direct debits set up at local authority offices.

Fines and distribution of proceeds

Those who have yet to pay the charge are subject to fines which on Tuesday will go up by €1 from €111 to €112, taking into account a monthly interest charge.
The €1 increments are added on until October when the fine will go to €20 plus €7  for the six months interest accrued plus the interest for October. This means that homeowners who have not paid by then will have to stump up €127.
In April 2013 the charge will go to €144 which includes €30 plus the €14 in interest accrued by that point.
Money received and processed by the LGMA goes to the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government on a “nightly basis”. The LGMA said that the distribution of the money is then a matter for the Department.
The money is put into the Local Government Fund along with other sources of income such as motor tax. The Department then distributes this money to local authorities through General Purpose Grants which are delivered to local authorities in tranches on an ongoing basis.
The Department of Environment said General Purpose Grants do not attempt to distinguish which portion of the grant to each authority comes from which source of revenue.