• School rule on Irish to be relaxed. A new system of awarding exemptions for the study of Irish in primary and secondary schools looks set to relax rules for many pupils. At present, Irish is compulsory in the education system though opt-outs are available on the basis of special needs, learning disabilities or if a child has spent a long period outside the State. Almost 40,000 pupils in schools avail of Irish exemptions. Under a new system, due to come into force in the new school year, pupils in special schools and special classes will be automatically exempted.
• Creed calls for end to ‘toxic’ relationship between meat industry and producers. Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed is calling for an end to what he describes as the “toxic” relationship between the meat industry and producers. Minister Creed said he “would certainly give consideration” to an independent investigation into profit margins in the beef industry, ahead of talks aimed at resolving a deepening row with farmers that has shut down many of the country’s main processing plants. Beef farmers have been picketing outside meat factories over the prices they are getting for their animals.
• Hospital consultants want date for pay talks. Hospital consultants have called on Minister for Health Simon Harris to set a date for pay talks as new figures show waiting lists are highest in areas with the greatest shortfall of specialist staff. The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) cautioned against any further delays in the talks because of the direct impact the consultant shortage was having on the delivery of health services.
• Lack of naval gun experts ‘a safety risk’. The Naval Service is operating with about one-third of the required number of personal needed to safely maintain its weapons. There are currently only three armourers, in the Naval Service. Between nine and twelve are needed to service and maintain the heavy weapons aboard the fleet’s nine vessels, military sources say.
• Ireland ‘respected’ globally, says former Tánaiste. Ireland is one of the “most respected countries in the world” with an influence disproportionate to its size, the EU special representative for human rights Eamon Gilmore has said. The former Tánaiste and Minister of Foreign Affairs said Ireland was respected because of its record on human rights, peace, nuclear disarmament, international development, overseas aid and the Northern Ireland peace process.
• Beef talks continue amid price index hopes. Members of the grassroots Beef Plan movement met representatives of the Irish Farmers Association (IFA), Meat Industry Ireland and Department of Agriculture in a bid to find a settlement to the increasing bitter dispute between farmers and processors over prices paid for cattle. Members of Beef Plan have claimed that for every €10 of beef bought off shelves, the farmer takes €2, the processor gets €2.90, and the supermarket gets €5.10. IFA President Joe Healy said that beef farmers’ incomes were totally unsustainable and he quoted Teagasc National Farm Survey data for 2018 which showed cattle-rearing incomes at €8,813 on average.
• Higgins offers condolences to Quoirin family and thanks search teams. President Michael D Higgins has offered his sympathies to the family of Nóra Quoirin and expressed gratitude to search teams after the body of the 15-year-old was discovered in a rainforest in Malaysia.
• Preparations stepped up for Pence’s visit. Preparations are intensifying for US Vice-President Mike Pence’s two-day visit to Ireland next month. Mr Pence is expected to arrive in Dublin on Friday, September 6th.
• State must delete Public Services Cards data. The State has been told it must delete data held on 3.2 million citizens, which was gathered as part of the roll-out of the Public Services Card, as there is no lawful basis for retaining it. In a highly critical report on its investigation into the card, the Data Protection Commission found there was no legal reason to make individuals obtain the card to access State services such as renewing a driving licence or applying for a college grant.
• Concern over rise in asylum seekers from ‘safe countries’. The number of people seeking asylum in the State increased by more than one-third in the first six months of the year compared to 2018, a period when numbers reached a 10 year high. The Department of Justice said it was concerned that many of those making claims for asylum in the State were originating from places classified as “safe countries”. Some 41 per cent of all asylum claims in the first half of the year were from Albanian, Georgian and South African nationals.
• Consultants in Irish hospitals earn 28% more than UK counterparts. Hospital consultants in Ireland last year earned 28 per cent more than their UK counterparts and 36 per cent more than those in New Zealand, a Department of Public Expenditure spending review states.
Business and Economy
• Property tax increase of €100 per home could generate €180m a year. Imposing a flat-rate increase in property tax of €100 on every homeowner in the State would raise a further €180 million a year in the upcoming budget, according to a new report by Revenue. The report also states that increasing carbon tax by €10 a tonne would bring in additional tax revenue of €216 million a year, while increasing duty on a pint by 10 cent would collect a further €68 million for the exchequer. These are just some of the revenue-raising measures featured in a report Revenue published ahead of Budget 2020 on October 8th.
• Irish consumers get the ‘Boris blues’. Irish consumer sentiment fell to a five-year low last month on the back of what KBC Bank Ireland economist Austin Hughes called “Boris blues”. The index dropped to 85 in July, a level not seen since November 2014, suggesting the mood of consumers moved downward with the arrival of Boris Johnson and his chief strategic advisor Dominic Cummings into No 10 Downing Street.
• Ryanair considers legal action to halt looming strike by pilots in Republic. Ryanair may take legal action to prevent pilots based in the Republic from striking next week in a dispute over pay. Members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association, part of trade union Fórsa – employed by Ryanair, told the carrier they would strike on August 22nd and August 23rd after talks chaired by mediator Kieran Mulvey collapsed.
• Value of Irish exports fell by €2bn in one month, figures show. The value of Irish exports fell by nearly €2 billion between May and June amid escalating trade tensions between the United States and China and further signs of global downturn. The latest official trade numbers show goods exports fell in value by 14 per cent to €11.5 billion in June on the back of declines in exports of medical and pharmaceutical products and transport equipment, including aircraft.
• Property price growth cools to six year low. The supply of new homes appears to be taking the heat out of the property market with annual inflation falling to just 2 per cent in June, its lowest level in six years. This compares with 12 per cent a year ago. In Dublin, prices flat lined, rising just 0.1 per cent in the 12 months to June, with house prices unchanged and apartment prices up by 0.1 per cent. The highest house price growth in the capital was in south Dublin at 3.6 per cent, while prices in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown, fell 4 per cent.