• Smear tests backlog to be processed in US laboratory. The Health Service Executive has reached an agreement with a US testing laboratory to process the massive backlog of smear tests in the CervicalCheck screening programme. The deal with Quest Diagnostics will ensure the survival of the programme, the HSE says, following weeks of uncertainty during which thousands of slides were put into storage because there was no lab available to process them.
• New electronic passport readers to be installed to ease airport delays. New electronic passport readers will be in place at both terminals at Dublin Airport from June 11th in an attempt to significantly reduce delays at immigration control. However, as airport infrastructure continues to make it impossible to segregate passengers arriving from domestic airports and the Common Travel Area (CTA) from those flying in from the rest of the world, passenger congestion looks set to remain a feature of the airport at peak times.
• Government attempts to ease tensions with Scotland over Rockall rights. Government officials were in contact with their Scottish counterparts yesterday in an attempt to ease tensions in the dispute over fishing rights at Rockall, the tiny disputed island some 400km off the County Donegal coast. The row intensified over the weekend when the Scottish government said its fisheries patrol personnel would board Irish vessels if they refused to leave the waters around the North Atlantic islet.
• Emigration museum voted Europe’s leading tourist attraction. The Irish emigration museum, EPIC, has been voted Europe’s leading tourist attraction at a global travel industry award ceremony. The three-year-old project in Dublin’s docklands, picked up the award on Saturday, winning over Buckingham Palace, the Eiffel Tower and the Colosseum in Rome.
• ‘Modest’ increases planned for property tax next year. The Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe is planning for “modest” increases in property tax when the deadline for re-evaluating how much householders pay comes around next year.
• Coveney rules out naval action over Rockall. Tánaiste insists diplomatic approach is the way to solving issue with Scotland. Government sources say contact has not been escalated to ministerial level.
• Varadkar signals four by-elections and referendum before Christmas. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has told his Ministers that four Dáil by-elections could be held in November or December. The writs for the polls needed to fill the vacancies created by the election of TDs Frances Fitzgerald, Billy Kelleher, Mick Wallace and Clare Daly to the European Parliament must be moved by January 2nd six months after they take their seats in Europe. A planned referendum to allow citizens living abroad and in Northern Ireland to vote in presidential elections is planned to take place at the same time.
• Report calls from restoration of €6m to TG4. An all-party parliamentary committee has called on the Government to restore €6 million in funding to TG4 to address a substantial crisis facing Irish-language broadcasting in Ireland.
• Legislation to ban employers making up wages with tips. The Government is to bring forward new legislation to ban employers using service tips to help pay workers’ wages, and require businesses to display their policies on tipping. Under the proposed changes, employers would no longer be allowed to use tips to bring employees’ pay into line with their contractual wage.
• New citizens’ assembly to consider possible changes to structure of Dublin councils. The Cabinet has agreed to establish two new citizens’ assemblies in the coming period. One on gender equality and one on local government in Dublin. The Dublin assembly will come after the gender equality assembly, which will begin in October and will have six months to complete its work.
Business and Economy
• Chief economist warns of threats to economy. The Irish economy is on a knife-edge, poised between “overheating” and a major Brexit-related downturn, the State’s chief economist has warned. John McCarthy described the situation as “extraordinarily complex” and uncertain, saying it made forming budgetary policy extremely difficult.
• Clampdown on property funds led to tax revenue drop. The figures show that in 2016, so-called section 110 companies contributed some €201 million in corporation taxes to the exchequer, or 2.5 per cent of overall gross corporation tax receipts that year. By 2018, however, this had fallen to just €93 million, or 0.8 per cent of that year’s gross corporation tax yield of €11.4 billion. Moreover, while there were 2,886 new section 110 companies registered in 2015, but in 2018 this had decreased to just 471, according to the Revenue Commissioners.
Business and Economy (continued)
• Property price growth falls to July 2013 level. The pace of property price growth has slowed to its lowest level since July 2013 with prices up 3.1 per cent across the Republic in the year to April. Figures released by the Central Statistics Office shows the pace of growth slowed from March, when prices were up 3.8 per cent, and are down considerably from April 2018 when prices rose 13.3 per cent in the previous 12 months. In Dublin, growth in house prices was stagnant, with no change in the country. But growth in apartment prices of 2.2 per cent accounted for the 0.5 per cent growth across the entire region.
• Dublin Airport to halt €2bn expansion. Dublin Airport is halting work on a €2 billion expansion following regulators’ proposals to cut the gateway’s passenger charges, hitting projects needed to accommodate record numbers of air travellers.