Dec 22, 2006

Direct taxes in Ireland are lowest in Europe

According to a recent survey by Deloitte - Irish workers pay the lowest direct taxes on wages in Europe .
Based on a couple - with a single earner - the average gross pay in Ireland came out at 33275 euro a year. The income tax on this was 605 and the PRSI or social insurance pdeductions were 1732 - leaving a net pay of 30908 euro. This works out at a deduction of 7.1%
A similar couple in the UK would have av earnings of 34395 euro - but tax of 2964 euro and National insurance of 5546 - leaving a take home pay of 25885 euro . Total deductions of 25% .
These figures seem fairly high - and if they are correct it's a wonder more people aren't moving to Ireland. Then again - you do have to pay for some of the costs of healthcare and the costs of prescriptions in Ireland - as well as school books. But there is no council tax or water rates in Ireland - and Child Benefit is higher too.

Survey from Deloitte - Deloitte & Touche

Dec 12, 2006

Ireland 4th most popular for British emmigrating

Almost 200,000 Britons moved abroad last year, bringing the total to more than 5.5 million, according to the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) .

The top 10 favourite new homes, accounting for 75% of British residents abroad, are:
· Australia - 1.3 million·
Spain - 760,000·
USA - 680,000·
Canada - 600,000·
Ireland - 290,000·
New Zealand - 215,000
· South Africa - 212,000·
France -
Germany - 115,000·
Cyprus - 59,000

Nov 24, 2006

Minimum Wage in Ireland

Details of the 2011 Minimum Wage rates in Ireland 

The rate was dropped to 7.65 in Jan 2011 - but is going to rise back to 8.65 soon.

Nov 16, 2006

Ireland 4th in UN Development Report

Yet another report or survey that Ireland has done well in..... the UN development Report placed Ireland 4th in the world - behind Norway, Australia and
The report looks at things like income, education, life expectancy, health spending etc. Some of the data used is a few years old - but it appears that the same age of data has been used for all countries. Another part of the report though shows that Ireland has a high level of poverty (17th out of 18) - so the country appears to be unequal. There are still plenty of people who are on low income in Ireland. But when low income is defined by referring to the average income - and the average income is one of the highest in the world maybe the poverty is not as bad as the report makes out. The Irish government complained that the data used was old - but I didn't see them complaining about the 4th position in the other part of the report.
Technorati Profile

Sep 2, 2006

School Holidays in Ireland 2006/2007

These are the school term dates in Ireland for 2006 - 2007
Useful information if you are planning a holiday or childcare.

School Year 2006/07
October 2006 mid-term break - All schools will close from 30th October to 3rd November 2006 inclusive
Christmas 2006 - All schools will close on 22nd December 2006 which will be the final day of the school term. All schools will re-open on 8th January 2007
February 2007 mid-term break - Post-Primary schools will close from 19th to 23rd February 2007 inclusive.Primary schools will close from 22nd to 23rd February 2007 inclusive. (Primary schools may use 3 discretionary days to extend this break to an alternative option of a 5 day break).Easter 2007 - All schools will close on 30th March 2007 which will be the final day of the school term. All schools will re-open on 16th April 2007.

Aug 30, 2006

An Irish Craftworkers Good Life

Just found this blog - can't remember how - but it's by a lady who moved back to Ireland from the UK . She and her partner are making a living by making and selling hand made craftwork from their base in rural Leitrim. Great insight into how you can live the "Good Life"

An Irish Craftworkers Good Life

Aug 11, 2006

Dublin Living Costs

Dublin is the eighth most expensive city in the world in which to live, according to a survey out this week .London was calculated to be the most costly for goods, services and rent, followed by New York, with the Irish capital in eighth place in the survey of 71 major cities. But - Dublin people were found to have the 3rd highest net wages - only beaten by Zurich and Geneva.
.In the cities of western Europe and North America, workers in 14 different professions earned a gross hourly wage average of €14.The study found the winners in the international comparison of wages to be English-speaking Europe, with Dublin and London newcomers to the top 10.The “Prices and Earnings” study carried out by global banking and financial group UBS looked at purchasing power worldwide.The study, which is published every three years, revealed that Dublin had risen to the eighth most expensive city since the survey was last carried out in 2003.The research also compared how long it takes workers to earn enough money to pay for a Big Mac burger.In Nairobi, one and a half hours’ work is needed to buy the burger, while in the US cities of Los Angeles and New York a maximum of 13 minutes’ labour is needed. In Dublin it takes just 15 minutes of work to purchase it.Food costs the most in Tokyo at €560 for a basket of 39 food items, while the basket in Dublin costs €373, €367 in London and €430 in New York.Public transport in general was most expensive in western Europe. While the price of a single ticket for a train journey of 200 kilometres was only €31in Dublin, it was €70.75 in London. In New York it was €40.70.A city break was calculated to be most expensive in London at €915, while it cost €714 in New York and €636 in Dublin.The bill for a three-course restaurant meal was €50 in London, €38.80 in New York and €41.10 in Dublin.

Dublin came out quite well in this survey - showing that prices are not as bad as people think - especially when you take earnings levels into account.

Aug 4, 2006

Private healthcare in Ireland - why bother?

Irish Hospital consultants have questioned the benefits of paying for private health insurance. Some claim going private does not necessarily ensure a fast-track to the operating table and that chronically ill patients are often better off in the public system.Citing the reduction in procedure waiting times under the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), the private sector’s inability to treat patients and the escalating cost of health insurance, they believe the benefits of having private health insurance are diminishing.Consultant neurologist Dr Orla Hardiman, director of neurology at Beaumont, and a medical adviser to the Neurological Alliance of Ireland, said that in some instances her public waiting list is actually shorter than her private waiting list.‘‘For some neurological conditions people can actually be seen more quickly in the public sector. Most neurologists have small private practices, so the number of private patients we can take is quite small. If someone has a problem that requires ongoing management and multi-disciplinary care they are better off in the public system,” she said.

Jul 31, 2006

Online Shops that Deliver to Ireland

Now that amazon has stopped delivering everything except books dvds and cds to Ireland - it is time to find some more online shops that do deliver to Ireland.
This site lists oads of shops selling everythng from clothes - cds dvds cameras mp3 players , tvs, gps, car parts, books, perfume, flowers , food, wine, bikes. All with delivery to Ireland.
You never need to leave your house again!

Jul 11, 2006

Personal wealth in Ireland - 2nd in the world

A decade of house price inflation has catapulted Ireland into second place in the global wealth league, according to a new report from Bank of Ireland Private Banking.

The report published today shows that when the value of housing is taken into account Ireland's privately owned assets are now worth an average of €150,000 for every man, woman and child in the country. The report says that the bulk of this wealth has been created in the past decade alone.

The Japanese are the only people in the world wealthier than the Irish, according to the report, which values our houses and financial assets - like pensions, shares, and other investments - at almost €800 billion.

If €115 billion owed to banks for mortgages and other loans is subtracted, the result, is €680 billion. Property, however, accounts for three-quarters of this amount, a higher proportion than any other country. The massive property boom has resulted in a massive 350% increase in wealth in a decade.

Bank of Ireland says that even when the value of principal private residences is excluded, Ireland now has 30,000 millionaires. It estimates 300 of these have more than €30m each, while 2,700 people have between €5m and €30m apiece.

RTE Business - Ireland is second in wealth league

Jun 4, 2006

Drinking in Ireland

THE Irish spend an average of €1,675 per household per year on alcohol — three times more than the second-highest spenders, Denmark, and 10 times more than Greece.

A survey shows we spend more money on alcohol than any other EU country and we also top the league of shame in binge drinking among young people. The figures are based on the proportion of income spent on drink.

A survey has revealed that Europe is the heaviest drinking region of the world, consuming two-and-a-half times the average of the rest of the globe.

It is estimated there are 23 million alcoholics in the EU, directly affecting the lives of nine million children. Alcohol causes 115,000 deaths a year and is now Europe’s third-biggest killer after tobacco and high blood pressure. It’s the leading cause of death in young men.

According to the latest figures, 10,000 people die in road traffic accidents due to drunk drivers, 2,000 are murdered by drunken killers and 60,000 babies are born underweight to mothers who drink through their pregnancies each year.

The study, carried out by the British-based Institute for Alcohol Studies for the European Commission estimates that alcohol costs €125 billion a year in early deaths, healthcare, crime, lost productivity and traffic accidents.

The study of Europe’s drinking habits paints a picture of the Irish as mainly beer drinkers. Irish adults are the sixth-highest alcohol consumers in the EU after Hungary, Lithuania, the Czech republic, Latvia and Luxembourg, according to the study.

They drink an average of more than 16 litres each of pure alcohol a year, equivalent to 178 bottles of wine, 800 pints of beer or 1,067 shots, compared to the European average of 11 litres. About 65% of this was beer, 20% spirits and just 7% wine.

About 22% of Irish people say they have not had a drink in the past 12 months.

Young Irish drinkers binge drink more than their European counterparts, with 32% of 15 and 16-year-olds bingeing at least three times a month on a minimum of five litres of beer, or a bottle of wine or five shots of spirits.

The study shows the Irish have not changed the pub culture for the continental one of drinking at meal times. Just 3% said they only drink when eating, the smallest proportion in Europe compared to 50% of Italians.

May 14, 2006

Czech Workers moving to Ireland

Ireland is among the most powerful EU exporters, mainly in the field of software. In 2002, according to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) figures, it was the world’s top leading producer and exporter of software, followed by the United States.

Of the 70,000 foreign workers every year that Ireland is looking to attract through 2011, the most sought-after are those in the high-tech industries, as well as in the construction, health care, tourism and transportation sectors.

Earning potential

Czechs might well be tempted to work on the Emerald Isle after a quick comparison of potential earnings; the Irish minimum wage is five times that of the Czech figure. In Ireland, the minimum wage is fixed at € 7.65 per hour (K? 215), which means an approximate monthly salary of € 1,224 (K? 34,643). In the Czech Republic, the minimum monthly salary is K? 7,185.

The booming economy, or “Irish miracle,” has already prompted nearly 6,000 Czechs to relocate. According to the Czech Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, 5,761 Czechs were employed in Ireland in 2005, and the numbers are increasing.

“We’re open to all kind of social categories, but mainly to youth, as they are less constrained by family responsibilities,” Hamill said, adding that a huge advantage Czech relocated workers have is that they can always return freely to their home country, which wasn’t the case 20 years ago.

“Czechs and Irish people are very connected as far as mentality and lifestyle. Our common Celtic roots make the integration much easier,” Hamill said. (Celts had settled in Bohemia by the 5th Century B.C.)

Last year, the economic relations between Ireland and the Czech Republic intensified, with a 25 percent increase in bilateral trade. Major Czech industries use Irish software, mainly in the banking field, while Škoda Auto has become a familiar make for Irish taxi drivers.

“Our openness has been a powerful engine for growth,” claimed Hamill. “It took 30 years for Ireland to become an ‘overnight success,’ but we did it,” he said.

Ireland wants workers to ?know before they go?

May 10, 2006

Maternity benefits Ireland - not too good

Compared to other European countries - Maternity Benefits in Ireland are not that great. The UK is about the worst - but Ireland isn't far ahead.

Statutory maternity benefit is payable for 22 weeks. If employed, a weekly rate of maternity benefit (= gross income in relevant tax year (second last complete income tax year before the year in which maternity leave starts) divided by the number of weeks actually worked in that year) is paid. 80% of this amount is payable weekly, subject to a minimum payment of EUR 182.60 and a maximum payment of EUR 265.60

The full details of the report are at the link below.

Maternity benefits vary in Europe

May 8, 2006

Amazon UK restrict deliveries to Ireland

Amazon wa always a handy place to get video games and even TV's and Vacuum cleaners - they used to deliver all these to Ireland - but I found out that from today only books and cds and computer (PC) software will be delivered to Ireland.

May 1, 2006

An immigrants story

This story of a couple from Moldova who moved to Ireland is from the The Mayo News Online - News>:
"It?s two years since Edward, Tatiana and daughter Alina moved into their Abbey Court home on the outskirts of Ballina. Shortly afterwards, in June of 2004, Stephen - their second child - was born. Later, in December of 2004, Edward and Tatiana celebrated the tenth anniversary of their marriage in Moldova. He is Catholic, she is Orthodox.
After Stephen?s birth they developed a hairstyling salon at the rear of their Killala Road home, where Tatiana now operates a successful indigenous business. Edward considers himself ?lucky? to have happened upon Culkin Commercial Repairs where he has worked as a mechanic since the autumn of 2002. He had been trudging the streets of Ballina in more hope than expectation when he took a chance and followed a small sign to what looked like a private garage. Yet again he deposited a CV but this time there was a call-back, from Kevin Culkin, and soon the wheels were turning. By the turn of the year he was part of the furniture at the Rehins business. Life, at last, was looking up.
?We are more settled definitely. We are more happy because we have the things we need for life. We know many more people, we have many good friends. We?re still hoping it will get better and better, but you have to work more and more for that as well,? Tatiana reflects on how her lifestyle has evolved since Edward?s brainwave to leave Moldovan capital Chisinau for England or Ireland left her reeling at the turn of the century.
?We know our kids are happy here, that?s the main thing. It?s much easier here to give them what they want than there. There [in Moldova] you have to save money so hard to buy something for them. When I go into a toy store here and I see how many toys are in there and I am able to buy any of them really. It?s not so tight for me to buy toys and I mean "

An immigrants story

This story of a couple from Moldova who moved to Ireland is from the The Mayo News Online - News>:
"It?s two years since Edward, Tatiana and daughter Alina moved into their Abbey Court home on the outskirts of Ballina. Shortly afterwards, in June of 2004, Stephen - their second child - was born. Later, in December of 2004, Edward and Tatiana celebrated the tenth anniversary of their marriage in Moldova. He is Catholic, she is Orthodox.
After Stephen?s birth they developed a hairstyling salon at the rear of their Killala Road home, where Tatiana now operates a successful indigenous business. Edward considers himself ?lucky? to have happened upon Culkin Commercial Repairs where he has worked as a mechanic since the autumn of 2002. He had been trudging the streets of Ballina in more hope than expectation when he took a chance and followed a small sign to what looked like a private garage. Yet again he deposited a CV but this time there was a call-back, from Kevin Culkin, and soon the wheels were turning. By the turn of the year he was part of the furniture at the Rehins business. Life, at last, was looking up.
?We are more settled definitely. We are more happy because we have the things we need for life. We know many more people, we have many good friends. We?re still hoping it will get better and better, but you have to work more and more for that as well,? Tatiana reflects on how her lifestyle has evolved since Edward?s brainwave to leave Moldovan capital Chisinau for England or Ireland left her reeling at the turn of the century.
?We know our kids are happy here, that?s the main thing. It?s much easier here to give them what they want than there. There [in Moldova] you have to save money so hard to buy something for them. When I go into a toy store here and I see how many toys are in there and I am able to buy any of them really. It?s not so tight for me to buy toys and I mean "

Apr 14, 2006

Road Accident Deaths in Ireland

Death on the roads is always in the news here in Ireland. Every wekend there is another batch of fatalities on the roads. The 2004 figures are shown below - and show that Ireland is pretty bad compared to the UK Netherlands and Sweden - but similar to Italy and France.
I am sure the number of provisional licence holders on the road that drive unaccompanied is part of the problem - as is alcohol and the speed of driving. On quiet rural roads at night drivers are tempted to drive fast - thinking they will meet no-one - but what they end up meeting is sometimes a tree!

Comaprison of Road deaths per 100,000 population

U.K. 5.6
Sweden 5.6
Netherlands 4.9
Ireland 9.3 France 9.2
Italy 9.7
N. Ireland 8.6

National Safety Council - News - News | press releases | National Safety Council | road safety news | fire safety news

Apr 11, 2006

Order from Ikea without going there

For those of you who can't live without Ikea - and they haven't started their Dublin store yet - you can order furniture from Edinburgh Ikea.

Until recently you had to actually visit the UK store in Glasgow to get stuff delivered to Ireland - or bring it over yourself from any of the other UK stores.
Recently Ikea have begun offering the facility to order by email or phone from the Edinburgh store and get it delivered to Ireland.
The full catalogue isn't online - so you would be advised to get the catalogue first before you order. Then you can "Stay seated and have everything delivered to your door."

Once you order they will give you a tailored quotation which will include delivery details.

phone: 00 44 131 440 6625
fax: 00 44 131 440 6717
(available mon - fri, 9am - 5.30pm)

This service is exclusive to IKEA Edinburgh only. "

Dublin better than London Paris and Rome

Dublin - The Irish capital came 24th in a survey of 215 cities across the world.
London was 39th, trailing behind Paris (33rd), but ahead of New York (46th).

Glasgow and Birmingham ranked joint 55th along with Losa Angeles and Tsukuba in Japan.

Zurich was the world`s top rated city ahead of second placed Geneva. Vancouver was third.

Baghdad was the city with the worst quality of life, taking the dubious title ahead of Brazzaville in the Congo and Bangui in the Central African Republic.

Cities in Europe, Canada and Australia dominated the top rankings in the survey by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, which aimed to establish the best and worst cities for expatriates.

London, Glasgow and Birmingham were the only three British cities included in the survey.

Each city was judged on factors including personal safety, the environment and access to health, education, transport and other public services.

Almost half the top 30 cities were in Western Europe.

London was in exactly the same spot as last year and Dublin dropped two places, mainly due to increased traffic congestion.

Mar 30, 2006

Ireland - the lowest tax in the world - Irish Independent

Irish people are always moaning about taxes but a survey shows that the average Irish family pays the lowest taxes on income in the developed world!

Figures from the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) show the state takes only 8pc of the gross earnings of a one-income family with two children earning the average wage, when the value of state benefits is included.
Higher income earners may be hit harder - but those on average wages were the subject of this survey,

This is just a quarter of the average deduction in the 15 pre-enlargement EU states.

The heaviest taxed EU-15 countries, Belgium, France and Sweden, take five times as much.

Irish taxes have been going up, the figures show. They reached a low of 6.4pc in 2003, when Ireland overtook Iceland in having the lowest labour taxes in the 30-nation OECD.

But this rose to 8.4pc in 2004, before falling again last year, and was still comfortably below Iceland's 11pc.

Single workers do not fare as well. They face deductions of 26pc - more than the state take in New Zealand, Korea and Mexico. But it is still almost half the 42pc EU average.

Even a lower-paid EU single worker on two-thirds of average earnings faces deductions of 38pc. Ireland and New Zealand take 20pc, compared with 27pc in the USA and 30pc in Britain.

The figures are calculated by adding employers' PRSI (natonal insurance) to income tax and employee PRSI (national insurance) , and subtracting the value of payments such as child benefit. They are therefore not the same as income tax deductions, but show how much the employee gets to keep out of the total cost to the employer.

In most of Europe, employers pay much higher insurance deductions than the 10.75pc charged to Irish employers. In many countries, the workers also pay more income tax. It therefore costs an Irish employer less money to offer the same amount of take-home pay.

Many economists believe these low labour taxes help explain Ireland's strong job creation and low unemployment. The difference is made up by Irish indirect taxes, such as VAT and excise duty, which are high by international standards. This helps makes the cost of living higher than elsewhere, but may be less damaging to employment.

"Countries have been cutting this tax wedge gradually, because they are aware these taxes have adverse effects on the labour market," said Christopher Heady, head of the OECD Tax Policy and Statistics Division.

The report says labour taxes have fallen in most countries in recent years, as governments try to get more people into work. However, the need to maintain government revenues means the changes are small. In Britain, the government increased social security contributions for employers and employees to fund an increase in health expenditure and focused its efforts to cut the tax burden on families, the OECD said.

The British tax wedge for a single person without children rose to 33.5pc.

Mar 29, 2006

Plans - what plans?

To cope with the increasing population and the desire by many Irish people to own a house or two - there is lots' of haphazard development, with houses built just about everywhere and anywhere.
Estates are popping up on the edge of every village ffom Kerry to Donegal. Plannin permission has to be applied for but in this age of the brown envelope you often wonder how some of it is granted. Everything is for sale and you seem to get planning for most places eventually if you keep the pressure on for long enough and produce an assortment of excuses.

The new cash crop in Ireland for the ailing farming industry is road frontage, with sites in prime farmland for sale everywhere.

The construction industry in Ireland is huge and contributes greatly to the economy but this monster must be fed, and it is being fed the countryside at an alarming rate.

Many developments are so badly thought out and so unsympathetic to the environment and the landscape.

Ireland is mostly a beautiful country - but there needs to be a much more structured approach to town/village planning. A collection of housing estates in small villages is just not right. The local Councils just don't seem to care.
Will it get any better - I doubt it.

Not everyone is happy

A reader's letter to the Irish Examiner gives a good summary of the major moans and groans about life in Ireland today.
The joys of living in modern Ireland

IRELAND has progressed in leaps and bounds over the past 20 years, so much so that it's a wonder our young people want to leave our shores. Let's stop whinging and appreciate what we have.

We are fortunate enough to have the dearest cars in Europe, paying massive excise on each one we purchase. We have the privilege of driving on some of the worst roads in the EU, causing damage which costs us a fortune to repair. We shouldn't complain because we are also lucky enough to be paying top rates of road tax to ensure roads are maintained to an acceptably low standard while also paying top dollar for fuel.

We are also still driving with alcohol in our systems which is a pure mystery given its cost and the amount of excise duty we pay on it. A litre of Jameson whiskey costs €11 in Spain while the same bottle costs €33 in Cork, where it is produced.

Drink-driving is partly the reason we have so many accidents, which is a pity because we can't get into the A&E departments in hospitals to have ourselves mended. This is also dangerous: if you are too drunk to drive a car, how are you supposed to balance on a trolley?

We could complain and send emails to our politicians but we can't get broadband. We could ring them on our mobiles but that's expensive, even if you can get a signal. Sometimes you can get a signal but, depending on the time of year, you can't get a politician, because they could be either on holiday or on Patrick's Day duty in Fiji or the Bahamas.

Another advantage of living in our modern Ireland is that we are in the middle of a housing boom, with more houses being built now than ever before at very affordable prices, if 30 or 40 people club together for a three-bed semi.

So let's be thankful for what we have and let's congratulate our political icons for getting us where we are. Not many could have achieved what they have over such a short period. If Churchill were alive today, he may well have said: "Never in the field of Irish politics was so little owed to so many by so many more."


Mar 24, 2006

Irish Immigration and Economy to Grow

Immigrants will make up one in five of the Irish population by 2020 ensuring Ireland continues to prosper - according to a report by NCB Stockbrokers
Forecasting sustained economic growth of close to 6% every year for the next 15 years they think that Ireland’s unique population and age structure would drive success.

In their highly optimistic report “2020 Vision: Ireland’s demographic dividend”, NCB reckon around 70,000 immigrants would be arriving in Ireland every year for the next five years.

This huge influx will play an increasingly important role in the growth of the labour force and demand for housing, the report said, supporting the generation of workers born in the baby-boom years of the 1970s.

NCB said Ireland’s population will grow by 30% to over 5.3 million 2020 and to 6 million by 2050. There will be 1 million immigrants in Ireland by 2020, the body said.

The report claimed the number of people aged between 15 and 64, the key group in terms of economic activity, will increase by over 700,000 to 3.5 million in the next 15 years.

NCB stated that sustained increase in labour supply will maintain the strong growth which began in the 1990s, and would ensure Ireland’s economic success far outstripped other European economies where populations were stagnant or declining.

The report claimed there was a potential growth rate in GDP of 5.75% up until 2010. Between 2011 and 2015 GDP could cool down to 5%, while looking further ahead to 2020, NCB forecast a slight slowdown in labour supply reducing GDP growth to 4%.

But analysts at NCB confidently predicted that a slowdown in the American economy would not hit Ireland badly. Nor do they think that the loss of major US firms would severely dent the economy.

NCB suggested strong growth in the labour force would keep Ireland ahead of the rest of the EU, regardless of whether multi-nationals decided to cut staff levels, or ultimately pull out.

2020 Vision also claimed consumer demand would be driven by relatively rapid rates of population growth with pensions, mortgages, insurance and other financial products benefiting alongside spending on leisure activities, travel and entertainment.

Housing demand may cool down over the next 15 years, but NCB do not predict a crash in the market. The continued influx of immigrants will keep the market alive with around 65,000 units completed each year.

The number of cars in Ireland will double to 3 million by 2020, the report claimed. While the number of motors in Dublin and neighbouring counties will top 1 million.

Over the longer term to 2050, the population will show distinct ageing. The median age of the population will go up from 33 to 38 by 2020 and to 46 by 2050.

Over 65s will account for 29% of the population or about 1.7 million individuals by 2050 compared with the current figure of 11%.

Mar 4, 2006

Driving without a licence.

Here in Ireland the average waiting time for a driving test was seven months in 2003 but has increased to over 10 months by the end of 2005

The crazy thing is - that it is legal for some people who have not passed the test to drive on their own!
You need to pass a theory test to get a provisional licence and you must be accompanied all the time on your first provisional licence .After the first licence expires in 2 years you can apply for a second provisional licence - and you do not need to be accompanied when you have this second licence!

Last year the number of drivers on a provisional licence rose to more than 404,000, with 129,869 waiting to take their test.

At the end of 2005 more than 206,000 drivers were using a first provisional licence, more than 98,500 were using a second provisional and over 42,240 were on their third.

Drivers on their second provisional can drive unaccompanied. The delays have been compounded by the fact that about 16,000 fewer tests were carried out last year than in 2004. To address this the governmant put forward a proposal last year, which included a bonus scheme to encourage driver testers to work overtime and the outsourcing of 40,000 tests to a private company.

This plan was immediately contested by Impact, the Civil and Public Service Union and Federated Union of Government Employees, who objected to the core work of civil servants being outsourced. As an alternative they proposed retraining surplus Department of Agriculture staff to clear the backlog. However, this plan was dependent on a minimum of 25 suitable Department of Agriculture staff being willing to participate and when only eight were identified, the government signalled their intention to return to the private sector.

The Department of Transport has identified the company that operates the National Car Test as a preferred candidate for the contract to provide 40,000 driving tests and Mr Cullen is keen to have the company start work as soon as possible.

"We are going to move to outsourcing immediately. It is a key element in reducing the waiting list for driving tests. I understand the Department is going to arbitration - and hopefully that will resolve it."

Mr Cullen said at the moment he was not looking at outsourcing more than 40,000 tests, as he hoped that the private firm, in conjunction with a bonus overtime scheme for existing driver testers "would make a huge impact".

"I would be delighted if I could get a deal immediately. That would allow us to clear the waiting list in a year or 18 months. Then we can get back to a much more normal situation where you can get a test in a few weeks."

Feb 27, 2006

Too many people registered to vote

The latest electoral register, published this month, could be wrong by up to 860,000 voters, a Sunday newspaper has claimed.
This is in spite of efforts by the Department of the Environment to improve the voter database.

According to figures obtained by the Sunday Tribune, there are almost 3.1 million people registered to vote in this country.

That's almost 300,000 more than the number of people actually eligible to vote.

In addition, the international norm for voter registration is 80-85% of the population - which would mean the level of inaccuracy would be about 800,000 voters.

The Department of the Environment undertook measures last July in an effort to improve the register's accuracy, but opposition parties now say the situation is getting worse."
As a relative newcomer to Ireland - I am surprised how easy it is for someone to remain on the electoral register if they move house or die.
In the UK a form is sent to every house every year to confirm who is eligible to vote. If the form is not returned - then anyone previously registered at that address is deleted from the register. Here in Ireland the onus is on the voter to inform the local authority when they move - and fill in a form and get it authorised by the gardai. So I can see why many people wouln't be bothered to tell them.

Feb 24, 2006

Tory praise for Ireland

Conservatives praising anything would worry me - they are just out for the businessman and the rich as far as I can see.

"In a speech in Dublin, British Tory MP George Osborne was set to claim that the UK government and economy needs to be leaner and more efficient in the face of increasing international competition.
But the Conservative frontbencher said the chancellor has instead overseen a decline in productivity and an expansion of the bureaucratic public sector.
'Faced with the extraordinary rise of emerging economies like China, India, and Brazil, many European governments seem to have accepted that we will not be able to compete. In Britain we are in danger of following their lead,' he argued.
'Our chancellor's response to globalisation is to block much-needed reforms, and give us an ever rising tax burden, and an ever growing welfare state. But that path leads to decline and is wedded to the past.
'To stick to it today represents a failure of ambition. Instead we must prepare ourselves for the future, through education, benefit and tax reform, new infrastructure, more research, and renewed innovation.'
And he said that Ireland has set an example to follow.
'That is why companies like Google, Intel, Apple, and Oracle have all chosen to locate their European operations in Ireland not Britain,' said the shadow chancellor.
'Ireland stands as a shining example of the art of the possible in economic policy-making.
'With its vision of a highly-educated, innovative, open, dynamic, low-tax economy, and relentless focus on the long-term drivers of prosperity, Ireland's economic miracle has shown that it has the right answers to the challenges of the new global economy.
'The new global economy offers us great challenges, and also great opportunities. Ireland has shown the world that wise economic policy-making can produce outstanding results that surpass all expectations"

Feb 22, 2006

Poor Language skills in Ireland

It's a day for bad news today - I do try to show the good and the bad about living in Ireland. Reports today show that Literacy levels have dropped in Ireland , according to examiners of some of last year's Junior Certificate papers. (Taken at age 14/15)

And in a separate report, an EU survey showed that Irish people have the worst record for second languages in Europe - and aren't bothered to improve their skills.

In a stinging indictment of broader education standards, the 2005 examiners say: "The most significant addition to the points made by the examiners in that year has been the observation that standards of literacy, in particular the ability to write in coherent, continuous prose, have declined."

Poor knowledge of basic vocabulary, such as the days of the week, among Junior Certificate French candidates was also identified in a series of chief examiners reports for 2005. These were published by the State Examinations Commission.

Ireland is the only EU country with no statuatory provision for teaching modern language in primary schools.

Third World ?

I was listening to a local radio phone in this morning here in the West of Ireland. They were discussing the problems with water supplies in rural areas. It was shocking to hear that in several areas there are dozens of houses with undrinkable water - they have to buy bottled water. Also there are other areas in County Mayo where the water is turned of for most of the day. There are no water rates payable in Ireland - the water supply is mainly controlled by local Councils with financial help from the government via taxpayers money. As someone said on the radio - if this was Ethiopia people would be sending aid to help - but Ireland is supposed to be oe of the richest countries in GDP terms in the world !! What is going wrong?

Feb 19, 2006

Irish House Prices Keep On Rising

A major international think-tank is preparing to deliver a glowing report on the Irish economy, in which it will say there is no threat of a housing market crash over the next two years.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) will say in its report, to be published in the next two weeks, that the economy will continue to grow rapidly.

The report is one of the most positive reports on the economy ever delivered by the Paris think-tank. It is prepared every two years and its forecasts up to the end of next year will come as a boost to the Fianna Fail-led government, as it prepares for an election next year.

The report will predict that house price growth will continue and that the housing market is not a bubble waiting to burst. Significantly, it will suggest that house price inflation could grow by up to 8 per cent in each of the next two years, without raising the risk that prices will collapse.

The economy will grow by 5 per cent this year and next, and is expected to continue to draw on immigrant workers to fuel a surge in Irish incomes.

The OECD will state its view that house prices, which have grown quickly along with other eurozone countries such as Spain, France and Italy in recent years, can be justified by the fundamental strength of the local economy.

Factors such as low interest rates and the growing population in Ireland have supported the huge rise in house prices in the past.

If the OECD forecasts are realised, the average cost of a Dublin house would climb to €430,000 by the end of next year. The OECD predicts that house price growth will slow, but it has ruled out the risk of a sudden collapse in the market.

Despite the rise in oil prices, the report will predict little risk of consumer price inflation sparking as it did during the height of the boom in 2000. Inflationary pressures are not building up, despite oil price rises and high growth rates, the report will say.

The OECD will also say that the Special Savings Investment Accounts (SSIA) pose only an outside risk for stoking inflation if consumers spend more of the €16 billion SSIA windfall than is expected after they start to mature in May

Feb 5, 2006

Looking for a property in Dublin?

This company offer to find you the ideal property - they do the searching and save you all the hassle (for a fee of course) They even offer to unpack all your belongings after yo move.


Jan 20, 2006

Irish still happier than most

IRISH people may not be as happy as they thought. New research indicates that Ireland is the sixth happiest place in the world — well down on the top slot it’s become accustomed to.
Professor Ruut Veenhoven, author of a new “life satisfaction index” and a leading academic expert on happiness, has used data from recent surveys that found Ireland topping the table in quality of life to find out how happy it really is.

“Ireland is a wealthy democratic country which has developed economically,” he said. “It’s also small and typically we see that the average happiness level is higher in small countries, probably because democracy functions on a smaller scale.”

According to Veenhoven, a sociologist at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, people in Ireland are happy because of the healthy economy and good standard of living.
Veenhoven used data from the World Values Survey of 100,000 people in 90 countries who were asked, on a scale of one to 10, how happy they were. He then modified the average according to “equality of happiness”. Nations with wide differences between the happiest and saddest citizens were pushed down the rankings.

This left Ireland in sixth place after Malta, which topped the table, followed by Denmark, Switzerland and Colombia as joint-second, with Iceland in fifth place.

Recent surveys suggest that life in the republic has never been so good. In November 2004, the Economist magazine named Ireland as the best place to live in the world. The country also came out top in the world quality-of-life index, with 42% of Irish people describing themselves as being “very happy”. In the World Values Survey life satisfaction index for 2004, Ireland came second overall.

The roll call of happy tidings continued with last year’s Dublin-based European Foundation for the Improvement for Living and Working Conditions reporting that Irish people are considerably more optimistic and more satisfied with life than the average European. The research also judged happiness levels and found Ireland to be joint-second in Europe, with Finland, after Denmark.

In Veenhoven’s research, Ireland still performs significantly better in the rankings than Britain. It was below 20 other nations, including far poorer countries.

Jan 19, 2006

House Prices in Ireland

The ESRI gives monthly updates on house prices in Ireland. The average figures - as everyone knows is never realistic because it is kept high by the few really expensive houses - but it is the best guide to prices available.
Avg in Dublin NoV 2005 - 365 thousand euro
Avg nationwide incl Dublin - 274 thousand euro
Avg outside Dublin 237 thousand euro

Migrant workers can now claim benefits - Irish Independent

Migrant workers can now claim benefits - Irish Independent
: "WORKERS from the 10 new EU states are entitled to claim social welfare benefits here if they lose their jobs.
The change in the law came after the EU Commission forced the Government to overturn a decision denying the benefits to EU citizens.
Previously the Government had insisted citizens of other EU countries must live in Ireland for at least two years before qualifying for social welfare payments.
This restriction was part of legislation introduced in 2004 amid fears that EU expansion could lead to so-called 'welfare tourism'.
However, the EU Commission questioned the decision on the basis that workers from EU countries must be treated the same, regardless of which EU country they work in.
The law governing social welfare payments was clarified last November, and now workers can claim the supplementary welfare allowance in the event of losing their jobs.
This SWA payment of ?165.80 can also be topped up with rent allowance and an emergency needs payment if necessary. However, a person must have worked here or in their country of origin to benefit.
Previously, if someone's job fell through the person would have no social welfare entitlements. Without independent means, these people were referred to the Department of Justice which would arrange travel home.
'If a job falls apart after a short while, previous to now you wouldn't have had any links to this country and enough contributions to get benefits,' a spokesperson from the Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs said. 'Now, under EU law, if you have been a worker here you will now be entitled to supplementary welfare allowance. The idea is you have decided to make Ireland your home and came over to get a job - but something went wrong, as it can do.

Jan 16, 2006

Ireland ranks 3rd in another survey

The Index of Economic freedom is a complex survey involving asessment of things such as wages, prices, government intervention, banking etc etc... Anyway - Ireland came 3rd in the world - not bad (well I hope it's a good thing?) Full survey etc here ...

Index of Economic Freedom 2006 - Search

Jan 7, 2006

Waterford has most violent deaths

Following on from a previous entry about violent killings in Ireland in 2005 - it was a bit of a surprise to see County Waterford having the highest rate of violent killings in 2005 (almost 40 per million) Dublin was only 23 per million while Limerick which has a very bad reputation - was one of the lowest at 5.7 per million people.
Eight counties had no violent killings in 2005 - Mayo Roscommon Longford Leitrim Laois Offaly Kilkenny Cavan.

I don't believe this story!

In the Irish Times yesterday it was reported that (the good news) Belfast City Council have agreed by a one vote margin - to support the St Patricks day festival in 2006. Most of the loyalist parties didn't support it. Sounds good so far - but they have banned alcohol (fair enough), soccer shirts being worn (could be tricky) and they have banned the Irish flag from being flown (the triclolour)!. To top it all - the emblem of the festival will be a rainbow coloured shamrock!! (Not a green one)
Irish flags and green shamrock will be on display in most cities of the world on St Patrick's day - but not in Belfast!
I just thought I would share this bit of news - which to me is a bit shocking.

Murder Rates in Ireland

Recent figures published in the Sunday Tribune in Ireland show that overall - Ireland has had 15.3 "violent deaths" per million of population in 2005. Now these may not all be classed as "murder" - but it's the figures they have provided.
Connacht has the lowest rate of violent killings - at 6.46 per million population (Mayo Galway Roscommon Sligo Leitrim)
Leinster (which includes Dublin) has the highest - at 18.5 per million.

For comparison - average Murder rates for 2002 to 2004 in other countries are shown below. So - Ireland is one of the "safer" countries to live in. Some of the figures from USA and Lithuania are shocking!

Germany 10.9
spain 11.3
Italy 13.3
holland 14.7
England & Wales 17.5
France 17.5
australia 17.8
poland 21.4
Scotland 22.7
czech 25.2
Northern Ireland 28.5
latvia 50.7
usa 55.4
Belgium 71.1
lithuania 104.5
south africa 739