Dec 18, 2004

Concreting Over Ireland

An excellent article from the UK Guardian - extract below

Ireland is used to violent change. Over the centuries, scores of armies of conquest, from the Danish hordes to Oliver Cromwell, have left their brutal mark on this soft and beautiful land. Today Ireland is threatened again. But this time no armies are massing on its border, nor are foreign fleets preparing to invade. This threat is an internal one. It comes from home.
Forget what you've seen in the tourist brochures. Do not be deceived by the glossy pages of mist-wreathed mountain vistas, wild open bogland and friendly, brightly painted little towns. Many of these are stock publicity photographs, already several years old. Today's reality is altogether different. If you want a tamed landscape dotted with off-the-shelf mock-Georgian houses, congested with nose-to-tail traffic and suffused by an ugly suburban sprawl, then céad mile fáilte - welcome to Ireland. This is the land of the bulldozer, where Tarmac, churned-up mud and shopping malls are as likely to greet the visitor as historic castles and windswept bays. This land has been mauled by the Celtic Tiger, chewed up by double-digit economic growth - and what's left is barely recognisable.

Let's start by opening up a recent map of the republic. Have a look at the miles and miles of dotted blue lines that radiate out from Dublin. They are proposed motorways - 900km of them in total, giving Ireland the biggest roadbuilding programme in Europe. €1.2bn is sunk into new roads every single year, far more than the government spends on public transport. These are not widening schemes or road improvements but new motorways that will plough their way through field and forest, hill and dale, bringing the roar of traffic to parts of the country more used to the chatter of birdsong....

Ireland is one of the most car-dependent countries in the world. Irish motorists drive on average 24,000km a year, far above the UK's average of 16,000 and even topping the US's 19,000. Petrol costs 50% less than it does in British filling stations, and a third of Ireland's diesel sales go to Northern Irish drivers crossing the border to fill up cheaply. Even the Irish government admits the rate of private car ownership and the volume of traffic have already reached levels predicted for 2010. Road traffic nearly doubled over the last decade, and the numbers of people commuting by car to Dublin in the morning rush hour increased by 149% between 1991 and 2001.

The impact on society has been profound. Family and community life has suffered as commuting distances and travel times have spiralled. The number of people travelling more than 15 miles to work has tripled since 1981, and more than a third of male workers leave home before 7.30 in the morning to start their daily commute. The school run has become one of the biggest sources of congestion. Half of all primary school children were driven to the school gates in 2002, compared with one in five back in 1981. Cycling has fallen by four-fifths.

Dec 16, 2004

Irish Women earning less than male colleagues

IOL: Women earning less than male colleagues - report: "Women earning less than male colleagues - report
13/12/2004 - 18:06:10

Irish women are earning one-fifth less than their male colleagues, a damning report revealed today.

The Central Statistics Office discovered huge discrepancies in wages, gender equality in the workforce and education.

The study found the numbers of women at risk of poverty, after pensions and social incomes, was the highest in the EU at 23% in 2001.

The study 'Women and Men in Ireland, 2004' stated that women represented only 13% of all the TDs in D?il Eireann this year, a rate well below the EU average of 22.1%, or Sweden?s strong showing of 45.3%.

This poor representation of women in the country?s political powerhouse was mirrored across the regional boards and those of state-sponsored bodies.

Efforts to break the 'glass ceiling' appear to have failed with almost 59% of women in the position of clerical officers in the Civil Service, compared with only 30% of men.

In 2003, only 10% of Assistant Secretaries were women.

Just over 70% of men were in the labour force compared with just under 50% of women.

Women work almost 10 hours less than men a week, while women?s hourly earnings were only 82.5% of men?s.

Around 240,000 men earn between ?20-30,000 a year, compared to just over 170,000 women. The number of men earning over ?50,000 euro a year was over 115,000 while only 25,000 women commanded the same wages.

The employment rate for women in Ireland last year was running at over 55% - just above the European Union average ? with the male rate at almost 75%.

The figures varied between an employment rate of 87% of women aged between"

Irish students are worst binge-drinkers - European survey

IOL: Irish students are worst binge-drinkers - European survey: "Irish students are worst binge-drinkers - European survey
14/12/2004 - 13:05:00

Ireland's teenagers have emerged as the worst binge-drinkers among a survey of 100,000 European students carried out last year.

Thirty-two per cent of Irish respondents to the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and other Drugs said they had consumed more than five alcoholic drinks in a row at least three times in the previous 30 days.

The next highest level of binge-drinking was in the Netherlands (28%), followed by the UK (27%) and Malta and Sweden (25%).

The problem of binge-drinking in Ireland was also found to be more pronounced among girls, with 33% admitting to binge-drinking, compared to 31% of boys.

The only other country where more girls admitted to binge-drinking than boys was the United Kingdom.

The lowest rate of binge drinking in the 35 countries where the survey was carried was in Turkey, where 5% of respondents said they had engaged in the practice in the previous 30 days."

Ireland needs more immigrants

Business World, live news from Ireland, plus Irish archive, lists, companies information:

"At the current rate of economic growth, the Irish economy will need 45,000 immigrants a year to fill vacant positions, according to a report out today from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
In its Population and Labour Force Projections for 2006-36 released today, the CSO said it expects the labour force to grow annually by 1.8pc over the next 12 years, if recent immigration trends are to continue.
The number of women in the labour force is also expected to increase by a quarter to one million within the next 12 years. Women would then represent 44pc of the workforce.
In terms of population, the number of old people is expected to more than double over the next 30 years to more than one million.
Almost one in five of the population is expected to be aged over 65 years by 2036, compared to one in ten at present. The number of people over 80 years of age is also expected to treble in the same period. Overall, the Irish population is expected to reach five million mark within the next 15 years if current fertility, mortality and migration trends continue."

Dec 2, 2004

Let's go the Ireland way

Let's go the Ireland way

This report from an Indian newspaper - using Ireland as an example that India should try and follow.

Nov 30, 2004

Tax Scandal

Business Day:

Some people pay no Tax in Ireland - it just doesn't seem right!
Article from "Business Day"

"Eleven Ireland-based people recently earned over a million euros yet did not pay a single cent in tax, while a mystery 'artist' made 10 million euros and kept the lot. Generous relief provisions under Ireland's tax laws are allowing some of the country's super-rich to bank all of their gross earnings.
With Finance Minister Brian Cowen due to present Ireland's latest annual budget to parliament on Wednesday, revelations about a range of quite legal tax relief deals have been thrust into the political spotlight.
A series of parliamentary questions tabled by opposition MPs have led to disclosures from the country's tax-collecting authority, the Revenue Commissioners, about just how valuable relief is for the very wealthy.
Since the revelations, an opinion poll in one of the country's newspapers showed 74% of voters want Cowen to close off the tax loopholes.
The years of the Celtic Tiger economic boom has resulted in a jump in the numbers of what the tax collectors call 'high wealth individuals'.
In recent years Ireland has been grappling with the scandal of so-called 'legacy' tax problems - widespread illegal evasion dating back decades. But now fortunes are being saved as big earners take advantage of legal loopholes. Artists' earnings are exempt, stallion owners get a free ride on stud fees and there are over 30 other reliefs involving areas like film making, multi-storey car parks, pensions' investment, business expansion, historical homes, holiday cottages and private health clinics.
The most recent year for which Revenue figures are available - an eight month taxable period in 2001 during a transitional switch to calendar taxation - showed 11 people declared earnings of over a million euros without any liability.
Labour finance spokeswoman Joan Burton was outraged when she"

Nov 29, 2004

Profile of Ireland

Ireland Profile: Economy

This useful site gives breakdowns on all sorts of facts and figures about all the nations in the world.

Nov 28, 2004

Even Tony Blair praises Ireland

: "Only Switzerland and Ireland have lower tax burdens in Europe"

Nov 25, 2004

The gain and pain of the Irish boom

An alternative view on Ireland being the best place to live in the world.

"People are happy - but maybe it's because they have low expectations"

The Observer | Focus | The gain and pain of the Irish boom

Nov 21, 2004

The truth of Irish Society - - Do Something About It

This site says it aims to explore the "real truths of modern Irish Society" . It has a few good points to make about some of the problems in Irish Society - mainly the drink culture, high prices and the secondary education system. It has some well written articles and some valid and interesting viewpoints.
The education system gripes are probably valid in many countries.
I think the high prices can be avoided if you shop around - but sometimes there is just no alternative nearby. Alcohol is a popular "pastime" - and alternative social outlets do need to be discovered in rural areas.

Like I said - I will cover the good the bad and the ugly.

You can't please all the people all the time.

Top 40 Singles in Ireland - Charts - Top 40 Singles
The taste of the single buying public is similar to that of the UK - there are only a few Irish acts that would get into the charts here and not in the UK.
US influences are big - as they are in the UK. Globalisation - that's what the big music companies want isn't it?

Crime in Ireland

This website shows the other side of the coin - the bad side.
Crime in Ireland

I know there are plenty of criminals out there and that places like Dublin and Limerick and other larger cities have a big crime problem.
There is corruption in Government - Local and National . But that probably goes on in places like the USa and UK - maybe they are better at hiding it?

I will try to show the good and the bad side of life in Ireland.

Nov 20, 2004

Going across the sea to Ireland

Telegraph | Property | Why we're going across the sea to Ireland: "The Irish republic seems to offer everything that England lacks: low crime, quiet roads, friendly people ? and the best quality of life in the world. No wonder so many English people are relocating there, says Thomas Harding
Ireland, according to a quality of life survey conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, is the best country in the world in which to live. The English, it seems, didn't need to be told this: already, a small army of them - from London and the South-East, in particular - have upped roots and started new lives in the west of the country.

In Co Kerry: 'it's been a non-stop stream of people, mainly from the south and south-east of England'

Following in the well-heeled footsteps of scores of actors, musicians, writers and film-makers - to whom Ireland gives significant tax breaks - the new ?migr?s ignore sarcastic sniggers from those who point to the grey skies, the corrupt politicians and crumbling moral authority of the Roman Catholic church.
They come to enjoy Ireland's negligible rural crime, its space, excellent education system, open roads and friendly welcome. They leave behind, they say, a country where people barely bother to speak to one another and where children require a constant escort.
While the Irish have enjoyed the benefits of a blossoming economy since the Eighties, they have also, without self-consciousness, retained much of their tradition and culture. In any town, in any part of Ireland, you will find a pub where two or three musicians thump away on hand-drums, fiddles and guitars, heartily singing old songs before getting down to Guinness and the reflective or sparkling conversatio"

Ireland's favourite brands

The top 100 brands in Ireland (by sales figures) are shown here
From Checkout 2004

Product Euro Value Per Million:
1 Coca-Cola 115
2 Avonmore Fresh Milk 92.1
3 Tayto 65.6
4 Birds Eye 60
5 Pampers 59.5
6 Lucozade Energy Total 58.74
7 Premier Milk 57.5
8 UP (Regular) 55.37
9 Denny Prepacked Cooked Sliced Meats 50.5
10 Club Soft Drinks 50.1

11 Cadbury Dairy Milk 48.8
12 Brennans Sliced White Bread 45
13 Goodfellas 43
14 Diet Coke 41.24
15 Dairygold 39.83
16 Lyons Tea 37.9
17 Ballygowan 35.84
18 Danone Actimel 33.19
19 Kit Kat 32.5
20 Barry’s Tea 31.6

21 Pedigree 31.5
22 UP Diet 30.61
23 Yoplait Yogurt 29.76
24 Denny’s Sausages 29.3
25 Persil 29.3
26 Shaws 28.46
27 Donegal Catch 28
28 Sqeez 26.9
29 Denny Rashers 26
30 Galtee Rashers 25.5

31 Lynx 25.46
32 Walkers 25.32
33 Ariel 25.2
34 Lucozade Sport Total 24.43
35 Wrigleys Extra 24.1
36 Erin 23.5
37 Mars 23
38 Gateaux 22.9
39 Muller 22.63
40 HB Originals 22.44

41 Cadburys Roses 22.1
42 Aero 21.9
43 Magnum 21.85
44 Kerrygold 21.5
45 Yoplait Petits Filous 21.5
46 Avonmore Cream 21.3
47 Clairol 21.2
48 Kellogg’s Corn Flakes 21
49 Dolmio 21
50 Hunky Dorys 20.9

51 Nescafe 20.2
52 Cadbury Snack 20
53 Captain Birds Eye 20
54 Maltesers 19.7
55 Mitchelstown Cheese 19.4
56 Pepsi (Regular) 19.28
57 Avonmore Supermilk 19.1
58 Special K 18.7
59 Fanta 18.42
60 Colgate 18

61 Kittensoft 18
62 Avonmore Cheese 17.3
63 King 17.3
64 Volvic 17.22
65 Roma 17.2
66 Whiskas 17.2
67 Cow & Gate 17.1
68 KP Hula Hoops 17
69 Ribena 16.91
70 Batchelors Beans 16.8

71 Cornetto 16.26
72 Dove 16.2
73 Weetabix 16.1
74 Huggies 16
75 Capri Sun 15.9
76 Galtee Snap Packs 15.61
77 Hellmann’s 15.2
78 Surf 15.1
79 Fairy Liquid 15
80 Siucra 15

81 Charleville Cheese 14.8
82 Galaxy 14.6
83 Maxwell House 14.6
84 Bold 14.2
85 Comfort 14.2
86 Dawn 14.13
87 Low Low 14.1
88 Inversoft 14
89 Uncle Ben's 14
90 Chef 13.8

91 Kerry Spring 13.72
92 Red Bull 13.7
93 Shamrock 13.5
94 SMA 13.5
95 Snickers 13.5
96 Tipperary Water 13.46
97 Sprite 13.37
98 Kilmeaden Cheese 13.2
99 Big Al’s 13
100 Ocean Spray 12.85

People living outside Ireland will probably never have heard of many of them - but there are many multinational brands like Coke and Cadburys. But I think it's good to see the Irish home made brands doing well.

Nov 18, 2004

Ireland - the best country to live in - it's official!

New Zealand News - World - Quality of life best in Ireland

Read on over the coming days and weeks for a glimpse into the real Ireland from someone who lives here.
Is it really that good?