Monday, September 28, 2009

Asylum applications to EU rise in Q2 2009 but drop in Ireland

eu flag THERE were 2,875 more asylum applications to the EU-27 in Q2 2009 than there were in Q2 2008, an increase of 4.9%.

But asylum applications to Ireland dropped by 23% in this period to 715. This, in the case of Ireland, is equivalent to 160 applicants per one million Irish inhabitants, compared to 125 per million EU-27 inhabitants.

The terms asylum-seeker and refugee are often confused: an asylum-seeker is someone who says he, or she, is a refugee, but whose claim has not yet been definitively evaluated.

National asylum systems are there to decide which asylum-seekers actually qualify for international protection. Those judged through proper procedures not to be refugees, nor to be in need of any other form of international protection, can be sent back to their home countries.

Ireland Q2 2009

The distribution, by age group, of asylum applicants in Ireland was:

Age Group Distribution of Irish applicants
0-13 22.5%
14-17 4.9%
18-34 56.7%
35-64 15.4%
65+ 0.4%
Number of asylum applicants 715







Approximately he Irish applicants are male.  Ireland reached decisions on 945 application in this quarter.  A positive decision was made in respect of 190 of these – 25 were granted refugee status; 5 were granted subsidiary protection (this does not qualify as refugee status but where substantial grounds have been shown for believing that the applicant concerned would face a real risk of suffering, or serious harm). 755 applications were rejected.

The five principal citizenships of applicants in Ireland  in Q2 2009 were:

Nigeria 155
Pakistan 65
China 55
Somalia 30
Congo 30
Other 380









Nigerian asylum seekers ranked first in Switzerland (410 applicants) and Spain (110 applicants).

The EU-27 considered 3,380 decisions from Nigerian applicants92% of these were rejected; 2% were granted subsidiary protection and 5% were admitted on humanitarian grounds.

Pattern of EU-27 citizenship asylum applicants















The EU Member States to which the largest number of asylum applicants were made in Q2 2009 were citizens of:




















The 266,465 asylum applications in the EU-27 was the highest since 2004. Applications in the EU 15 peaked in 1992 at 670,000 and in the EU-27 in 2001 at 424,000. More applications are currently lodged in Sweden than any other Member State. 


Country Number of applicants, 2007 Rejection rate, 2007
Sweden 36,205 37.5%
France 29,160 88.5%
UK 27,905 70.5%
Greece 25,115 98.5%
Germany 19,165 44.6%
Austria 11,920 41.3%

Germany holds the record for applications received in a single year – 104,355 in 1997. The largest number received in Ireland in a single year was 11,635 in 2002.

Ireland received 73,000 asylum applications in the 10 years to 2009. The rejection rate is approximately 90%.

Over half (57.8%) of all EU-27 asylum decisions in 2006 resulted in rejection while some 55,135 persons were granted either refugee or subsidiary protection status.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees reports that there were 42million people forcibly uprooted by conflict and persecution worldwide amid a sharp slowdown in repatriation and more prolonged conflicts resulting in protracted displacement.  New displacements are occurring in Somalia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.  Some displacements are short-lived but others can take years and even decades to resolve.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dirty, dilapidated and jaded Dún Laoghaire

Has the ‘get-up-and-go’ of Dún Laoghaire simply ‘got-up-and-gone’?

Centre of Dun Laoghaire


There is something unique about being out and about early on a Sunday morning. No traffic, vehicular or pedestrian and little noise or bustle to thwart one’s perception. Shortly after daybreak this morning I walked along the High Street of Dún Laoghaire – Upper and Lower Georges Street, Cumberland Street, and Crofton Rd.

A High Street is a metonym for the primary business district of a town – typically its principal retail zone which ought to reap the economic benefit of its hinterland.  It could be regarded as the vital organ, beating heart, or smiling face of a confident community; a community with a definite sense of purpose; a community with a clear identity and an awareness of its potential as well as its past.

Champs Élyées serves this purpose in Paris as does Newbury Street in Boston, Oxford Street in London, 5th Avenue in New York and Castle Street in Dalkey. Dún Laoghaire has its share of poverty and distress but it is not an economically deprived ghetto wasteland!  Yet a Martian could form that opinion by strolling along its High Street.

Dún Laoghaire is the county town of county of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, a county with its own 28-member council and an electorate of over 150,000 persons. 

Dún Laoghaire occupies a unique position in our national makeup. The first railway in Ireland was opened between Dublin and Dún Laoghaire in 1834. Its magnificent granite harbour took 42 years to complete and has been an important gateway to Ireland for passenger ferries and ships since 1859. The modern harbour has been the recipient of much investment – several marinas, four active yacht clubs and a newly developed terminal used by Stena Lines for its fast ferry service to Holyhead.  But it is the High Street that radiates the soul of a place.

The town itself expanded in the Victorian and Edwardian era as a desirable residential suburb. It continues to be a much sought after location in which to live, offering plenty of amenities, long established and well thought of schools and most agreeable coastal scenery and other attractive natural resources.

2009 09 27_0585_edited-1 But there is now a plethora of dirty, litter-laden, vacant retail premises in this vicinity with chewing gum embedded on the adjacent footpath. The High Street seems to attract nothing other than hucksters outlets, discount stores, fast-food outlets, charity shops and various transient enterprises, mostly offering low-value junk. There is hardly a brand name over a shop front that would be recognised in an adjacent postal district.  The epicentre of retailing never reached this town. Nowadays, nearby Dundrum has overtaken and overshadowed it with its modern town centre the main showpiece.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown is not deprived of political influence. Its two Fianna Fáil TD’s include a cabinet minister (Mary Hanafin) and a Minister who attends government meetings (Barry Andrews).   Twenty of the 28 council seats are filled by Fine Gael and Labour members – the parties who aspire the form the backbone of the next government. The current Cathaoirleach of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council is Marie Baker.  She has represented the Blackrock Ward since 2004 and managed to spearhead an increase in her party’s share of the poll in the most recent local elections from 27% to 39%.  That vote of confidence now needs  be reciprocated with effective leadership and genius.  There is also an active Chamber of Commerce whose mission is to promote the town, but can it do no more than make a silk purse from a sow’s ear?

It is surprising, given this ambition, that Fine Gael and Labour don’t demonstrate a capacity to govern effectively at local level. Nothing demonstrates such a capacity more than the vitality of the High Street. Robert Mugabe would be embarrassed by the High Street of Dún Laoghaire.

2009 09 27_0584-copy I was saddened and surprised to observe 
two large Fine Gael local election posters, now obsolete for 4 months, adorn one of the litter-laden, spider infested vacant shops. What a gesture of civic indifference!  Come on, have they no pride?

Delinquent banks and economic recession have made their mark but there is no relationship between using a yard brush to clean a High Street premises and water to wash its facade with the economic downturn. Owners who neglect High Street properties ought to be heavily fined.  Political indifference is a symptom of a lazy, myopic, indolent culture. How could an electorate be convinced that those who control the country council are fit the govern the nation when the jewel in the county crown is a heap of neglected shit? ‘A fairer Ireland’, how are you!

The fact that this morning I passed the body of a dead man lying face down on the footpath outside the entrance of St Michael’s Hospital on Crofton Road merely added to the overall spectre of a town that itself is dead and awaiting a shroud.

2009 09 27_0589_edited-1 There are several excellent public buildings in town.  The original County Hall has been skilfully extended and the old and new structures are seamlessly integrated – as it the case with the Boston Public Library on Boylston Street. 

2009 09 27 har aut The Harbour Authority occupies an outstanding landmark headquarters overlooking the Harbour..



2009 09 27_0595_edited-1 The new ferry terminal is magnificent, as is the newly constructed headquarters of Irish Lights.

But my vote in the next general election will be influenced by the party, or parties, that demonstrate a convincing capacity to govern. I am no longer won over by hysteria, shibboleths or clichés!  My litmus test will be the vitality of Georges Street.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Another 'High-Noon' at FAS

THE appearance of a FÁS delegation, for the 4th time in twelve months, at the Public Accounts Committee yesterday signalled another ‘high-noon’. This appearance followed the shocking revelations in the second Special Report issued by the Comptroller and Auditor General into a scandalous level of extravagant and feckless waste of public money spent on advertising and promotion at FÁS, “an agency with a culture of non-compliance, part compliance and circumvention” according to Peter McLoone the Chairman who, along with IBEC presided over this.

This country has been served from time to time by some really outstanding and inspiring public servants for whom trustworthiness, transparency and integrity were bywords. But it has also had to endure more than its fair share of clown princes, princesses and gombeen-men with delusions of adequacy.

Do those individuals responsible for the selection of Rody Molloy as Director General of FÁS have any regrets about this decision?

The two Special Reports from Comptroller & Auditor General published to date are a comprehensive indictment of guile and sheer incompetence that has suffocated this agency for the last 9 years and mutilated its reputation. The idea that the State would provide Molloy with premium levels of compensation to oust him, in the light of settled evidence, is not just manifestly outrageous; it is precisely the type of decision which debases the reputation of the country and would lead any outside observer to believe that the Irish are nothing but a posse of pathetic goboloons.

Molloy and his side-kicks displayed the paranoia of J Edgar Hoover, Head of the FBI from 1924 until his death, at the age of 77, on 2nd May 1972. Their incompetence, arrogance, guile, self-serving nature and peasant cunning and the pathetic naivety of Del-Boy. Pervasive lack of accountability, weak standards of corporate governance, abuse and waste of public money were the hallmarks of Molloy’s tenure and define his legacy. It will clearly not surprise the master of non-compliance that the State has finally awakened to the logic of not rewarding this fool for his idiocy and the material loss that this incurred.

But Molloy continues to impart his prestige as Chairman of the Institute of Public Administration. The Institute of Public Administration is supposedly the Irish national centre for development of best practice in public administration and public management. Its training and education programmes are tailored to the needs of public servants. Its research and publishing services offer an informed voice and forum for discussion and debate on public service issues. Its board includes Peter Nolan, National Secretary of IMPACT, the trade union of which Peter McLoone is General Secretary Chairman of the board of FÁS. Perhaps Al Capone’s grandson ought to be allowed extend his prestige and be appointed as Chairman of the Revenue Commissioners. Does this nation not deserve better?

The bile continues to seep and trickle from FÁS. The odour is overpowering and, at last, it dawns of the political establishment that it is not necessary to reward Molloy with 4½ years added pension worth €1 million and a taxable payment with no admission of legal liability, of €111,000 to compensate for loss of office. This murky, squalid package was slung together without even the observations of a novice law clerk. Of course, Ireland is bursting with resources and the role of Government is to squander these bolstering the vanity of eunuchs, who, in another jurisdiction would be televised ‘prep-walking’ to court.

When Molloy before the Public Accounts Committee on 2 October 2008 he stated in his introductory remarks that “FÁS is not a perfect organisation” and that internal audit reports are written in a style and in robust language not designed for general public consumption and that “unfortunately, the internal reports released by us under the Freedom of Information Act have been sensationalised by the media and used by some with a destructive agenda towards FÁS”. His hope that day was that meeting of The Public Accounts Committee and the Comptroller & Auditor General’s involvement “will end the constant negative commentary”. What bishop wrote that script for him?

The media report today, 25 September 2009, almost a year after this Examination began, that Molloy filed 22 complaints in relation to the conduct of the internal audit team which wrote the report which was the subject of the C&AG examination. All of Molloy’s complaints were rejected by the Audit Committee of the FÁS board.

The Public Accounts Committee stated on 18 December 2008 that they “found it difficult to obtain comprehensive and full information from FÁS. Much of the information we received was incomplete and presented in a format which made it difficult to analyse. In addition, some of our requests for information have been refused. The lack of complete data has slowed down our investigation and made it more difficult to make a final judgement on this hugely important matter”

This is a principal oversight committee of sovereign nation acting on behalf of citizens who are providing over €1 billion every year to an agency where there is clearly no adult supervision.

Molloy is not the first honcho to leave that agency with his palms abundantly greased. The former chief executive of An Bórd Gáis, John Lynch was appointed Chairman of AnCO while Ruari Quinn was Minister for Labour. FÁS was subsequently created incorporating AnCO, the National Manpower Service and the Youth Employment Agency and Lynch became its first Chairman. Today he describes the latest episode of traffic mishaps involving CIE buses.
The position of Director General became vacant in 1990 following the hasty departure of the former incumbent whose position was no longer tenable. It was advertised but the Chairman was to discover there was nobody sufficiently brilliant to take on this role until he looked in the mirror one day. The board of the agency invited him to consider himself as candidate. He was interviewed and the outcome was successful from Mr Lynch’s perspective. The Minister for Labour at this stage was Bertie Ahern.

Lynch continued as Director General for a decade. Those who reported directly to him included Gregory Craig, Head of Corporate Affairs, the function that is subject of the C&AG special reports. Craig was suspended on full pay. The Chairman of the FÁS Audit Committee, told the PAC that this suspension was serious enough to be ranked as ‘short of dismissal’.
It was reported in the media that Craig enjoyed 20 days paid accumulated leave and the letter confirming suspension seems to have only been issued on 1 December 2008 at which time Craig’s solicitor advised him not to discuss the nature of his suspension with any other party.
It does seem strange that with Garda enquiries ongoing and the protracted controversy surrounding the department over which Craig had unfettered oversight that he should be short-listed for the vacant position of Assistant Director General of FÁS. The interviewing panel that made this possible included Christy Cooney, now President of the GAA.

The taxpayers observed the Cooney leadership skills at the conclusion of the All Ireland Hurling Final on 6 September this year. Cooney, with the moral rectitude and imperiousness of General Norman Schwarzkopf Jnr, directed that fans should not enter the pitch, for health and safety reasons, after the game and the cup would be presented to the winners on the pitch.

The fans, en masse, defied the General and invaded the pitch. The General retreated to the stand and an LCD sign flashed ‘Plan B’. The General was lanced; his presidency of the GAA defined.

The pity is that FÁS was also a Plan B organisation led by a caste of B country and western bit-players, stunt men and small-town marshals, none of whom had the impact of Gary Cooper or the elegance of Grace Kelly in the 1952 film 'High Noon'. Molloy and his fellow travellers should not be treated as injured innocents when they forfeit their badges.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

GDP falling and incalculable obstacles to recovery

2009 09 10 Gov Bldgs THE Government is suggesting that the latest data on the performance of the Irish economy, which indicates a contraction so far of 7.4% in GDP, was as anticipated last April when the second Budget was introduced and that a slight increase in merchandise exports of €20.79 billion (+€154 million) from multinational companies in the second quarter reflects an encouraging sign.

One quarter of the merchandise exports comprise computer software that was not incorporated as part of computer hardware or physical media but separately transmitted by electronic means.

Outward direct investment from the International Financial Services Centre was €5.73 billion in Q2.

Some €4.77 billion was reinvested in Ireland by multinational companies and this was combined with an investment €12.56 billion brought directly from overseas.

Exports to EU predominate

The EU is the destination of 63% of Ireland’s merchandise exports and 66% of exported services. 43% of merchandise exports and 39% of exported services are despatched to € countries.  The exhortations of the UK Independence Party in connection with The Lisbon Treaty neatly avoid this fact.

Increasing Dependency

The population of Ireland has risen to 4.45 million, an increase of 38,000 in the 12 months since April 2008 despite the emergence again of net outward migration – of 7,800 persons. The increase is accounted for by a record birth rate. This trend will enlarge the dependency ratio and requirement for resources in education.

Unascertainable impact of Banking Crisis on recovery

The media are absorbed by the ramifications of NAMA. But I find it instructive to view this banking crisis in a broader context because that is what will define our prospects for economic recovery.

The last time the banking system was in relative equilibrium was 2002, the year before the € became our everyday currency and the year before The Financial Regulator was established.

Our GDP, at constant market prices, is likely to have grown by 82.4% from €94.3 billion in 2002 to an anticipated €172 billion at the end of 2009.

Six financial institutions (AIB, Bank of Ireland, Irish Life & Permanent, Anglo, Irish Nationwide and EBS) accumulated customer deposits of €1.025 trillion but they collectively lent €1.543 trillion - €518 billion more than their collective deposits in from 2002 to 2008, financed by money raised on international markets.

The Central Bank provide a sector breakdown of outstanding credit each quarter. While, not surprisingly attention is drawn to the €96 billion owing by the real estate sector and €21 billion owing by the construction sector, the growth in personal borrowing of over €80 billion is bound to hit Skid Row in a deteriorating economy.

The growth in borrowing by manufacturing was quite moderate at under 75% given that it is from this source that exports and employment are generate. The following table sets out the main changes:

The following table illustrates that while Ireland’s GDP grew by 82.4% private sector credit expanded by 175.3%.

  March 2009
€ Million
€ Million
% Change 2002-09
Agriculture and forestry 5,457 2,304 73.1%
Fishing 386 100 35.0%
Mining and quarrying 575 334 138.6%
Manufacturing 8,571 3,665 74.7%
Electricity, gas and water supply 1,251 423 51.1%
Construction 21,285 16,788 373.3%
Wholesale / retail 14,053 8,776 166.3%
Hotels and restaurants 11,437 6,267 121.2%
Transport, storage and communications 3,347 1,363 68.7%
Financial intermediation 86,164 46,035 114.7%
Real estate 95,987 78,780 457.8%
Education 753 386 105.2%
Health and social work 2,787 2,232 402.2%
Community, social and personal services 2,967 1,773 141.8%
Personal borrowing 136,381 79,978 141.8%
TOTAL PRIVATE SECTOR CREDIT €391,401 M €249,204 M 175.3%
Response of The Financial Regulator
The Chairman of the Regulator stated in his 2008 annual report  stated “our strategic approach to regulation was framed in a much more benign environment but that the Regulator had taken steps to slow bank lending, in particular in 2006 and again in 2007”.
The first chief executive of the Regulator, Liam O’Reilly, stated in the 2005 annual report along with the Central Bank, we are concerned about the rapid rise in the levels of indebtedness in the economy and are well aware that if conditions change adversely, many people could be severely affected. We monitor and require institutions to anticipate and prevent risk issues now rather than to have to address problems down the line. There has been much debate about high loan to value ratios in recent days for mortgage borrowers. In this debate, the critical issue is the ability of borrowers to repay the loan in full. It is the responsibility of each financial institution to ensure that their credit standards, provisioning policy and levels of capital are appropriate to provide not only for today, but, in the event of any future downturn in the market. So long as the quality of credit is maintained and the ability to repay is not compromised this is not a problem. We have a responsibility to inform consumers which we are doing through our publications, which set out the risks and benefits of various financial products, including mortgages and personal loans.”
O’Reilly’s focus seems to have been more acute when it came to securing his next sinecure.  He became a director of Irish Life & Permanent Plc last September just before a banks that had customer deposits of €12.9 billion was to provide €7.5 billion to masquerade the balance sheet of Anglo Irish Bank on 30 September 2008.  He was presumably recruited as an authentic advocate of financial regulation compliance but in March 2009 the same bank was fined €600,000 by the Regulator for serious infringements.  Does this mean that O’Reilly is as effective as a director of this bank as he was when chief executive of The Financial Regulator.  His ability to control and regulate the imbeciles that took over the asylum as not unlike that of a police riot squad wearing pink bedroom slippers (with ribbons, of course).  The reasons for the fine have not been disclosed.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Immigrants especially hit by severe Irish employment downturn

map IRELAND’S latest job figures, for Q2 2009, are devastating – 264,600 persons unemployed at the end of June 2009, an increase of 137,900 (+108%) in a year. This is an unemployment rate of 11.6%.

The number of unemployed males is 186,900 compared to 77,700 females. The number of unemployed males increased by 122%

The number in employment was 1,938,500, a drop of 174,300 (8.2%) in this period – representing a decline in the participation rate from 64% to 62.5%.


Changes in Employment Pattern

The drop of 174,300 in the number employed between the end of Q2 2008 and 2009 was borne more heavily by workers from the last group of States to join the EU – those that increased the EU from 15 to 27 Members.


Number employed
Q2 2009

Share of jobs maintained
Q 2  2009

Share of jobs lost









EU 15
excluding IE and UK




EU 15 to EU 27












Employment among immigrants from the EU 15 (excluding IE and UK) bucked the trend and increased by 3,300 jobs!  The 42,000 drop in employment of the EU15 to EU 27 cohort was most severe in industry (10,800), construction (15,100), wholesale and retail (5,300) and administrative support and services (4,100).

There were 16,100 additional jobs in the public sector – public administration, education and healthcare.  14,300 of these jobs were secured by Irish nationals.

Gains in Employment

Apart from the extra 16,300 jobs in the public sector, the only other sector to record job gains were 2,400 in information and communication and 3,600 in finance, insurance and, guess – real estate category!

There were 5,000 additional jobs in public administration of which 700 went to non-nationals.  There were 4,100 additional jobs in education of which 4,100 went to Irish nationals; 700 were lost by non-nationals.  The health services yielded an additional 7,000 jobs of which 5,400 were secured by Irish nationals.

Changes in Unemployment

Unemployment among non Irish nationals increased from 26,400 to 50,900.  The impact of this 24,500 increase in unemployment was: Irish (2,500), British (2,500), EU 15 (excluding IE and UK) (500), EU 15 to EU27 (16,900) and Other nationalities (4,600).

Emigration from Ireland

The number of persons who emigrated from Ireland in the year to 30 April 2009 increased by 40% to 65,100 and natives of Eastern European Member States accounted for 30,100 of these and Irish nationals accounting for 18,400. 

Immigration to Ireland

The number of arrivals in Ireland declined from 83,800 in the year to 30 April 2008 to 57,300 in the year to 30 April 2009.  There were 20,200 fewer immigrants from the EU15 to EU27 Member States.

There was net migration of –7,800 in the year to 30 April 2009.  That was the first time Ireland experienced net migration since 1994.


The Opera of the Poor is at the top of the Hit Parade!  Births for the year to 30 April 2009 totalled 74,500a number not achieved since 1896!

The number of births exceeded the number of deaths by 45,100 – facilitating a natural increase in population.  The low point in recent times of natural increase was in 1994 when the corresponding figure was 16,600.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Arthur’s Day : 17:59, 24th September 2009

2009 09 10_0436_edited-1 THE world of Pint Drinkers’ will celebrate the 250th anniversary of the establishment of the Guinness Brewery in the centre of Dublin on Thursday, 24th September. The other well known business which can trace its origin to 1759 is Waterford-Wedgewood, founded by Josiah Wedgewood (1730-1795), grandson of Charles Darwin. A celebration of such an important and relatively unique milestone ought to look beyond the business to the wider footprint that the Guinness family have made in Ireland.

Arthur Guinness (1725 – 1803) is thought to have been the descendant of a Catholic family from Co. Down. His first foray into brewing took place at Leixlip, Co Kildare in 1855 with the proceeds of a £100 legacy granted to him by his godfather, Arthur Price the Archbishop of Cashel, who died in 1752. Arthur’s father, Richard (1690 – 1766), had been land steward to the Archbishop.

Not the first Irish brewery,
but the most enduring!

Arthur was not the only brewer in Dublin at that time. Joseph Leeson, 1st Earl of Milltown (1701- 1783) was a rival. Leeson’s father came to Dublin around 1680 and became a wealthy brewer. Like Arthur, Leeson was also a politician and represented Rathcormack in the House of Commons between 1743 and 1756. When he became Viscount Russborough he commissioned the magnificent house in County Wicklow, designed by Richard Cassels and built between 1741 and 1755, which bears this name. In 1728 Suesey Street in Dublin was renamed Leeson Street in his memory.

His daughter, Cecilia, married David La Touche who founded the Bank of Ireland, the oldest bank in Ireland, on 25 June 1783.

Arthur, the family man

2009 09 10_0437_edited-1 Arthur and his wife Olivia had 21 children, of whom 10 survived to adulthood. They lived at Beaumont House in north Dublin. When he moved the business from Leixlip to St James Gate (photographed above) four years later. He negotiated a 9,000 year lease on a 4-acre site at an annual rent of £45.

He was a supporter of Henry Grattan (1746 – 1820), Irish MP for the constituency of Charlemont and advocate for legislative freedom for the Irish Parliament in College Green, not least because Grattan promised to reduce the excise on beer. But Arthur also supported the principle of Catholic Emancipation but was not in favour of the 1798 Rebellion.

The St James Gate complex was extended to 64 acres and became the largest brewery in the world.

Apart form the sheer longevity of the business and the iconic character of the brand, the involvement of the Guinness descendents in politics, business and philanthropy was far reaching

2nd Generation

His successor to the business was third surviving child Arthur II (1768 – 1855). He and his wife, Anne, had 9 children.

3rd Generation

Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness (1798 – 1868), Head Brewer, the third son of Arthur II and grandson of the founder succeeded to the business. He took control of the brewery in 1839 at the age of 41. He was also Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1851 and became a Conservative MP representing the City of Dublin between 1865 until his death in 1868.

His personal accomplishments included the provision of £150,000 to restore St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin between 1860 and 1865. He was also the patron responsible for the restoration of the adjacent Marshes Library. He purchased and restored Ashford Castle in County Galway in 1855.

2009 09 10_0422

Sir Benjamin married his first cousin, Elizabeth Guinness (daughter of Edward Guinness, a Dublin solicitor who was the 4th child of the founder and brother of Arthur II), in 1837 and they purchased 80 St Stephen’s Green in 1856 and the adjacent house in 1862. Both are now known as Iveagh House. Sir Benjamin personally created Iveagh House (photographed) from the two that preceded it and created the magnificent, elaborately decorated building in Portland Stone that now endures.

4th Generation

2009 09 10_0434 The 4th generation of control passed to Edward Cecil Lee (1847-1927), 4th child of Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness and his brother Sir Arthur Edward Guinness, 1st Baron Ardilaun, Arthur Edward purchased the half-interest of his brother for £600,000 and took sole control of the business in 1876 at the age of 29. He became the richest man in Ireland when the business raised £6 million after the business was successfully floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1886. The windmill (photographed) was built in 1926 to provide energy to the brewery and is to be restored.

1st Earl of Iveagh

He was created Baron Iveagh ion 21 January 1891, choosing a name connected to County Down. He advanced to Viscount Iveagh on 18 December 1905 and was created 1st Earl of Iveagh on 30th September 1919.

This was the man, who with his wife and cousin, Adelaide Maria, bought Farmleigh on the periphery of the Phoenix Park. Farmleigh is an estate of 78 acres and was acquired by the Irish Government for €29.5 million in 1999.

It was a small Georgian house when the newly-wedded couple bought Farmleigh in 1873. The launched a major building programme between 1881 and 1884 to extend the house to the West and refurbish it, adding a third story. In 1896 a ballroom was added. A large conservatory was created in 1901 and the gardens were further developed with the planting of broadleaves, making the estate a fabulous venue for elegant entertaining.

Bur the 1st Earl of Iveagh was also a deeply committed philanthropist. He spent £1 million establishing what is now the Guinness Trust. This Trust has provided 100,000 people with 56,000 affordable homes in England and Ireland. The Irish venture, known as the Iveagh Trust, was the largest single episode of urban renewal in Edwardian Dublin and was set up to clear the slums in the vicinity of St Patrick’s Cathedral. The centrepiece is the Iveagh Baths on Bride Street. These are set on a granite plinth decorated with terracotta panels. The housing block consists of five stories surmounted by copper domes over stairwells and ornate art nouveau details in the gable ends. The shops on the ground floor are still in use today.

He was also Chancellor of Trinity College from 1908 (the year UCD was established) until his death in 1927. He provided funds for the Physics and Botany building at the College.

Walter Edward Guinness, Baron Moyne

His 3rd son, Lt Col Walter Edward, 1st Baron Moyne (1880 – 1944) was a resident British Minister of State for the Middle East and was assassinated in Cairo on 6 November 1944 by a militant Zionist underground group on account of this disposition to the evolving Palestine. He had been MP for Bury St Edmunds from 1907 to 1931.

He was succeeded to the title by Bryan Guinness (1905 – 1992) and became the 2nd Baron Moyne on the death of his father.

The former Tory MP, Jonathan Guinness (b1930), married three times and father of 8 children became the 3rd Baron Moyne in 1992.

Sir Arthur Edward Guinness, 1st Baron Ardilaun

2009 09 10_0421 Lord Ardilaun, 1840 – 1915, lived in what is now St Anne’s Park Raheny, Dublin and he is remembered for restoring St Stephen’s Green and giving it to the people of Dublin in 1880. He succeeded his father as Conservative MP for the City of Dublin in 1868 but only held the seat for a year but was elected again in 1874 and held it until 1880.

His home in later life was at Ashford Castle and he was conferred on 22 June 1880 with the title Baron Ardilaun of Ashford.

5th Generation

The descendants of the 1st Earl of Iveagh presented Iveagh House to the nation in 1939 and it has been the headquarters of the Department of Foreign Affairs since.

Rupert Edward Cecil Lee Guinness succeeded his father as Chancellor of Trinity College Dublin from 1927 – 1963, a tenure that extended for 45 years.

He was succeeded in this role by Frederick Boland, once Secretary-General of the Department of Foreign Affairs, first Irish Ambassador to Great Britain (1950-56) and Ambassador of the United Nations (1956) and was President of the General Assembly when Nikita Khrushchev took off his shoe and pounded it on the lectern of the Assembly.

Rupert was the 2nd Earl of Iveagh from the time his father died in 1927 until his own death in 1967.

6th Generation

The last family member to hold an executive position in Guinness was Arthur Francis Benjamin Guinness. His father, Arthur Onslow Edward Guinness, was the second son of Rupert Edward Cecil Lee Guinness. His eldest son, Richard Guinness, died in the year he was born – 1906.

He was the 3rd Earl of Iveagh from 1967 until his death in 1992. He was also the last Guinness family member for whom Farmleigh was home.

His son, Arthur Edward Rory Guinness (b 1969) became the 4th Earl of Iveagh. He farms a plot of land in Elveden Suffolk comprising 22,486 acres. His heir apparent is Arthur Benjamin Geoffrey Guinness who was born in 2003.

The Saunders Era

Austrian born Ernest Saunders was Chief Executive of Guinness Plc between 1981 and 1986. He launched a friendly takeover bid to acquire United Distillers in 1986 which was the subject of a takeover interest by another hostile bidder. The price of Guinness shares increased. The Guinness bid was successful. Saunders and three other Guinness executives were charged in 1990 with conspiracy and false accounting in an attempt to manipulate the price of Guinness shares to assist with £2.7 billion takeover bid. The defendants were to buy Guinness shares so as to support the share price and assist in the takeover of the much bigger United Distillers Company. Saunders raised $100 million to buy Guinness shares but this money was not accounted for appropriately in the Guinness accounts. Saunders was jailed for 5 years for false accounting, conspiracy and theft. The sentence was halved on appeal. Saunders was released from prison on 28 June 1991 after 10 months with full parole. It was claimed that he suffered from dementia but subsequent to his prison release he worked as a business consultant.

Guinness today

Guinness is owned by Diageo. A proposal to relocate the brewery from St James Gate was announced last year.

The Guinness Storehouse is the most popular visitor centre in the city. The Storehouse had lain idle for many years and was slated for demolition but the estimated cost of demolition saved it. It is the earliest steel framed multi-storey building in Britain and Ireland with such magnificent detailing in its brickwork.

The Storehouse was built in 1904 as the fermentation house for the brewery. The structure is almost square in structure allowing natural light to reach the ground floor. The steelwork is exposed.

The Pint continues to have a special place in the hearts of consumers in Ireland and elsewhere. The tax inclusive price of a Pint has increased by 54.5% in the past decade compared to a 44.2% increase in the consumer price index. The tax content of a Pint is currently 26.9%.

The Dublin brewery supplies the entire British and Irish market following the closure of the Park Royal brewery in 2005.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

This was a very special day!

I became a grandfather this morning for the first time!  Scott Patrick Sharp made his debut at 9.15 AM on this sunny Sunday morning in Mount Carmel Hospital, Dublin.  He weighed in at 7lb 9 oz and will probably be known as Scottie to his proud parents Howard and Hilary!

His was a totally natural childbirth, an unusual event these days and took 14 hours to accomplish.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

IBEC and the unions - the watchdogs that never barked

DESPITE the Taoiseach clinging tenaciously to the concept, the principal stakeholders of social partnership have been reduced to empty rhetoric and the threat of disruption that, in due course, will be seen to have achieved nothing. The paltry attendance at street protests outside Leinster House this week is evidence of a weary and disillusioned public.

Social partnership has demonstrated some focus, coherence and purpose when the objective was merely the division of perceived incremental wealth. But there appears to be no scope for partnership when there is no wealth to divide, hence the grandstanding.

The publication, on 10th September, of the Comptroller & Auditor General’s Special Report on FÁS undermines the authenticity of IBEC and the trade unions as social partnership process to the point where this concept has probably run its course.

The C&AG’s examination was part of a follow up to a Special Report issued in April 2008 and the subsequent consideration of the Report and other issues by the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee.

The examination covered the period 2002 to 2008. In that time FÁS spent €48 million on advertising, promotion and related activities. FÁS had the largest advertising expenditure in the entire non-commercial State sector.

The examination found that advertising and promotional activities lacked strategic direction and that much of the advertising was ineffective in increasing awareness of services provided by FÁS. Budgetary control was poor and expenditure in that area exceeded budgets by 38% in the periods under review. There was some wasted expenditure, including €600,000 spent on television advertisements that were never broadcast and a further €600,000 for which no services were delivered to FÁS.
The examination also found that FÁS did not always comply with public sector procurement procedures and there were shortcomings in its internal financial controls which resulted in breaches of expenditure authorisation limits and a failure to track all expenditure commitments.

The last Director General of FÁS, Rody Molloy, resigned abruptly last November but was rewarded with very significantly enhanced pension arrangements, despite this performance and the country being almost bust. There is no jail-time for white collar crime or incompetence in Ireland. This matter falls within the context of national heritage preservation, although Molloy’s successor admitted the staff of FÁS feel betrayed by the wasters-in-charge.

The Report identifies a number of areas where improvements could be made to systems, practices and procedures at the State agency. The C&AG is to issue another special report about governance at FÁS in a few months.

The recently appointed Director General of the employers body IBEC, Danny McCoy, calls for moderation in government expenditure and a reduction in wages and welfare. He represented IBEC on the board of FÁS from 2005 until he took on this role a few months ago. He had ample opportunity to practice what he so stridently preaches but he failed to do so.

An increase in State funding of 45% to over €1 billion per year was provided between 2002 and 2007. The number on the Live Register increased by 20.3% to 170,376 and the number unemployed increased by 14.6% to 93,400 during this period. A substantial component of the FÁS spend is connected to welfare. They say that a nod is as good as a wink to a blind man so the excess of expenditure over income in 2005 and 2006 did not arouse the sleeping directors of FÁS.

What moral authority does IBEC now have with respect to these issues when
it did not even bark when it could have achieved an outcome that it says it

Potential savings of €400 million could have been achieved during these years, an era of effective full employment, without unduly compromising the overall intended impact of FÁS.
The trade union movement is heavily embedded in FÁS and the evidence of its very limited competence, most recently under the chairmanship of Peter McLoone, to oversee the agency is now tragically apparent.

The trade union movement has lost tens of thousands of subscribing members since the recession bit the leg off the economy.

A consequence of social partnership is that Ireland ranked second last this year in terms of labour cost competitiveness throughout the EU-27.

Our labour cost competitiveness has eroded by 23%-points since 1998 according to competitiveness indicators published by the European Central Bank. This is a consequence of social partnership. The average deterioration in labour cost competitiveness throughout the EU-27 was 4.4%. Slovakia is the only Member State with a poorer showing. Germany and Austria both achieved a significant improvement in labour cost competitiveness in the decade.
The moral of this is that any prospective social partnership process must be first about the creation of wealth, the enhancement of productivity and increased output. If there is a shared perspective about this the issue of wealth distribution can then be considered from a sold foundation. Sowing precedes reaping.

Ireland must never trust the myopia of a Ponzi-like construction bubble ever again propagated by self-serving bankers, no waste time on a social partnership process that is bereft of effectiveness.

A new approach is necessary.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Child Abuse in Ireland – the cost of eliciting the truth

2009 09 10_0410 NOW that €54 billion of the peoples’ prospective wealth is likely to committed to the National Assets Management Agency there is an intense awareness of about trends in  Government spending.

The matter of child sex abuse in industrial schools in Ireland came to prominence in 1999 and the Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, made a public apology on behalf of the State in Dáil Éireann. The Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse was then established.

Its mandate was

  • To listen to the victims of childhood abuse who wanted to recount their experiences to a sympathetic forum
  • To fully investigate all allegations of abuse made to it, except where the victims did not wish for an investigation
  • Publish a report on its findings – now commonly known as The Ryan Report which was issued on 20 May 2009.

The Costs

It was estimated that the Commission would complete its work in two years and that the cost would be between €1.9 million and €2.5 million. It actually took ten years to gouge the truth out of 18 religious congregations and the estimated cost of doing so is between €126 million and €136 million.

Administration is estimated at €30 million; the Commission Legal Team €15.73 million; 3rd party representation €52 - €62 million; responding to enquiries €8.5 million and other State costs € 2million.  Actual costs to the 31 December 2008 were €59,363,107.

The Commission is expected to complete its work next year.

Factors Impacting Cost Level

  • Legal challenges and consequent delays – relating to representation, deadline for evidence extension, compellability of a witness in relation to vaccine testing to attend at public hearing; challenge by the Christian Brothers on fair procedures and disclosure of details by the Confidential Committee
  • Reviews of Commission work and additional added functions concerning vaccine trials.
  • There was ‘non-effective expenditure’ between November 2001 and September 2005 of €1,153,204 in connection with an extension of the Inquiry into children in institutions’ being subjected to vaccine trials between 1940 and 1987. This aspect of the Inquiry did not proceed.
  • The former Chairman of the Commission, Ms Justice Laffoy cited impediments to the work of the Commission for the 3 years prior to 1 September 2003. She stood down at that time and was replaced by Mr Justice Seán Ryan by whose name the Commissions May 2009 Report is known.
  • Ryan recommended that the Commission refocus the work of the Investigation Committee on abuse of children. Procedural changes were put in place to streamline efficiency. The obligation to hear each and every allegation was removed and witnesses were called to the extent that the Investigation Committee deemed necessary. Interim reports would be published and a renewed effort was to be made to strengthen trust between all parties.
  • Delays in agreeing a scheme of legal expenses. From May 2001 to April 2002, an initial brief fee of €34,918 and €23,279 was payable to senior and junior counsel respectively. A refresher fee of €1,905 and €1,270 per day was agreed for the first 40 days. These were slightly higher than fees for other tribunals. New fees of €2,250 for a senior and €1,500 for a junior counsel were agreed in January 2004.
  • Absence of a scheme for the payment of compensation to victims – agreed in principle in October 2000 but not resolved until April 2002 with the enactment of the Residential Institutions Redress Act 2002 and the establishment of the Residential Institutions Redress Board as a separate process.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Average EU tax burden is high

2009 09 10_0430_edited-1 TAX LEVELS in Europe vary enormously from 29.4% of GDP in the case of Romania to 48.7% of GDP in the case of Denmark. (picture: Dublin Castle)

The European Union, as a whole, is a high tax area. The sum of taxes and social security contributions in the 27 Member States amounted to 39.8% of GDP. This proportion is about 12 percentage points higher that those of the United States and Japan. The EU Tax : GDP ratio is also high among major non-European OECD Members.

Tax : GDP ratios tend to be higher among the first 15 Member States of the EU than among the more recent Eastern European Members.

New Zealand if is the only country non-European OECD Member whose Tax : GDP ratio exceeds 35%.

A stabilisation in the overall EU tax burden has evolved following increases in government expenditure and coincidental taxes for a number of years.

Tax Burden in Ireland

The following summarises the position in Ireland:

€ Billion



Estimated 2009

National Taxes




Social Insurance




Local Government




Total Tax

€59.63 Bn

€53.57 Bn

€47.01 Bn


€189.75 Bn

€181.81 Bn

€172.80 Bn

Tax : GDP %




Source: Commission on Taxation and CSO National Accounts


Total public expenditure as a percent of GDP for selected countries between 1974 and 2004 is set out below for illustrative purposes:




























United Kingdom



United States



Source: Tax Revenues in the EU, 11 July 2007

Overall Tax Burden in EU 2000 and 2007



Tax % GDP































United Kingdom









Czech Republic













































EU-27 Average



Source eurostat: Taxation trends in the EU

These trends are a reflection of a more extensive role for the public service since the 1970’s. A number of Member States took advantage of buoyant tax revenues at the end of the 1990’s to reduce the tax burden, through cuts in personal income tax, social security contributions and corporate taxes. While the overall tax burden in some Member States decreased after 2000, this trend was not sustainable after 2005 – due to slower economic growth between 2000 and 2004. Some States needed tax revenue to reduce their government deficit, making it difficult to cut taxes

Personal Income Tax – 2008

Ireland ranks 15th in the personal income tax rate hierarchy in the EU 27 with a 2008 maximum personal tax rate of 41%





Top personal Income Tax rate



Czech Republic






















United Kingdom


































EU-27 Average


Source eurostat: Taxation trends in the EU

Top Rate of Statutory Corporate Tax

revenue Corporate tax is charged on the profits (income or gains) of a company. Irish companies are taxed on their worldwide profits. Non-resident companies that trade in Ireland through a branch, or agency, are charged on the profits of that entity.

The current Irish standard rate of Corporation Tax of 12½% applies to trading income and income from vocations and professions.

A rate of 25% Corporate Tax applies to non-trading income – interest, rents, royalties, as well as income from what are defined as ‘excepted trades’ – minerals, petroleum, dealing in or developing land, other than construction activities.

A rate of 25% applies to capital gains, except for gains from the disposal of development land, the gains on which are charged at 25% and are not included in the profits chargeable to corporate tax.

Companies with a corporate tax liability of less than €200,000 are defined as small companies. There are approximately 103,000 companies liable for corporate tax in Ireland. Over 64,000 of these had no taxable income in 2007 and a further 31,000 had a trading income of less than €200,000 in 2007.

Corporate taxes will account for about 11% of all national taxes in Ireland in 2009 and there will be a potential drop of €2.6 billion in 2009 attributable to the recession and the treachery and delinquency of Irish banks and the ‘loose stools’ that posture as their top-level leadership.

Top Rate of Corporation Tax
















Czech Republic






















United Kingdom


















EU-27 Average


Non-EU countries











United States













Source eurostat: Taxation trends in the EU

The EU-27 average rate of corporate tax has declined steadily from 35.3% in 1995 to 23.5% in 2009. This trend has reduced fears of Member States competing to successively undercut each others tax rates. Enlargement had reinforced such fears as the tax rates especially in newer Member States reached levels of more than 10%-points lower than those of established Member States.

Taxes on corporate income in Europe is not only levied through corporation tax but, in some Member States through surcharges or additional taxes levied on tax bases that are similar but often not identical to traditional corporation tax. The simple corporate tax rate in the table above has been adjusted by Eurostat for comparison purposes. If several rates exist only the ‘basic’ top rate is presented. Existing surcharges and averages of local taxes are added to the standard rate. Adjustments have been made for Belgium, Germany, Estonia, France, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg and Portugal.

Tax Issues in the Future

The economic impact of ageing will raise many challenges in terms of the structure of taxation. The working-age population will shrink and a fall in population growth rates is anticipated. Reforms in taxation and welfare that will increase productivity and labour supply will be desirable. Welfare will have to facilitate the long term sustainability of public finances.

The financing of welfare may rely less on income taxes and savings, as these too are expected to decline.

The impact of globalisation and tax competition could force a shift of the tax burden from geographically mobile to immobile tax bases. But such a shift is complex because the effect can take diverse forms. Globalisation may render it increasingly difficult to collect taxes from mobile bases and motivate a search for new alternatives – such as polluting activities and environmental taxes.