Archive | September, 2010

Dublin: Majority Of Voters Want Taoiseach Brian Cowen To Go

30 Sep

 

A majority of voters want the Taoiseach to stand down before the next General Election.

According to an Ipsos MRBI poll in tomorrow’s Irish Times, 61% of voters want Mr Cowen to resign, with Finance Minister Brian Lenihan the favourite to succeed him.

The first instalment of this poll, in today’s Irish Times, contained relatively good news for Fianna Fáil, with the party back on the same rating as Fine Gael for the first time in two years.

However, the second part of the Ipsos MRBI poll in tomorrow’s paper is a little more unpalatable for the Taoiseach.

Asked if they wanted Mr Cowen to step down before the election, or to lead Fianna Fáil into that contest, 61% said they wanted him to leave before the election, 29% want him to remain, while 10% did not know.

If Mr Cowen were to go, his Finance Minister is the favourite to take over.

Brian Lenihan got the backing of 39% of voters, compared to 18% for Micheál Martin, 8% for Mary Hanafin, and 6% for Dermot Ahern.

5% of voters opted for another, unspecified, candidate, while 24% said they did not know who they would like to see leading Fianna Fáil.

Prosperous, County Kildare: New Appeal Over 1990 Murder Of Dessie Fox

30 Sep

 

An appeal for information has been launched in connection with the death of Dessie Fox in Co Kildare in 1990.

Gardaí believe that a gang of seven men was involved in the robbery and murder of Mr Fox who was shot dead 20 years ago today.

Detectives say the gang was armed with a shotgun and a handgun and the 47-year-old father-of-three was robbed of €20,000, shot in the leg and bled to death.

Mr Fox was a Dungannon bookmaker who was attacked at Healy’s Bridge in Prosperous on 30 September 1990 as he was on his way to the Curragh Races.

Today gardaí issued a new appeal for information.

They say they believe that all those involved in the crime are still alive and that people who have information should now come forward.

His family today also made a special appeal for information on the crime.

His daughter Lorna said that they are still grieving and to deal with their grief they need to know the truth.

UPDATE:

The Gardaí at Naas Garda station are investigating the murder of 47 year old Dessie Fox, who was shot dead at Healy’s Bridge, Prosperous, Co Kildare on 30th September 1990. Mr Fox from Dungannon, Co Tyrone, worked as a course bookmaker. On the morning of 30th September at 11.15am he left his home in Dungannon. His intention was to attend a race meeting at the Curragh in Co Kildare. He drove a white 250D Mercedes, Registration number MJI 7055.

Route travelled:
Bush Road to Armagh city via Moy
Carrickmacross via Keady and Castleblaney.
Navan via Ardee, Slane
Scene via Dunsany, Kilcock and Prosperous.

At approximately 1.20 pm on 30th September 1990 Dessie Fox was seen coming out of Connolly’s Newsagents shop in Prosperous Village. He had a newspaper under his arm. He got into his car which was facing toward Dagwelds. As Dessie Fox approached Healy’s Bridge a red Car was seen travelling behind him.

Investigators believe that this car was a red Carina registration number 90 G 2506. The occupants of the Carina opened fire on Mr Fox’s car causing damage near to the right rear indicator and the front left tyre, which was deflated. Two bookmakers bags in the boot of the car were also damaged. Investigators believe that there were only two raiders in the Carina; one of them wore a puma cap which he discarded near the scene.

Mr Fox tried to reverse away but ran off the road and was forced to stop by the driver of the Carina. The raiders then caught up with him and as they approached fired one shot from a handgun through the open passenger door. The bullet entered the deceased’s left leg, passing through his right leg and lodging in the door. This injury proved fatal and Mr Fox died at the scene.

The raiders then stole a black leather briefcase containing a large quantity of cash, canvas money bag, billheads with name, Motorola cellular portable car phone and car keys. The canvas bag and phone were later recovered.

Vehicles of interest:
Red Carina with number plates 90 G 2506.
This car’s correct number is 89 D 25125.It was stolen from 12 Ashfield Avenue, Ranelagh village between 2.15 and 4pm on 26th September 1990.
It was located at 12 noon on Monday 1st October 1990 in a field at Powerstown, Blanchardstown, Dublin.

Grey Mitsubishi Gallant 87 or 88 Registration with either 11 or 14 in the registration. It was seen travelling in convoy with the Red Carina at O’Grady’s Filling station, Palmerstown
The front passenger of Toyota Carina was seen climbing into the back seat of the Gallant. He was wearing a Puma cap

www.garda.ie

Europe Debt Crisis Rolls On As Irish Bailouts Grow

30 Sep

AP – Police stand beside a cement truck which rammed the front gates of the Irish Parliament in Dublin Wednesday …
By SHAWN POGATCHNIK, Associated Press Writer Shawn Pogatchnik, Associated Press Writer:

DUBLIN – Ireland will have to pump euro12 billion ($16 billion) more into the country’s crippled banking system, dealing more grief to shellshocked Irish taxpayers.

Coupled with the downgrade of Spain’s bonds by a third ratings agency, the news Thursday from Dublin provided more evidence that Europe has not shed the debt troubles that shook the continent this spring as Greece teetered on the edge of bankruptcy.

Irish government leaders described the total bill to fix their banks, about euro45 billion ($60 billion), as “horrible” — but manageable. The bailout will swell Ireland’s deficit this year to a staggering 32 percent of economic output, the biggest in post-World War II Europe.

Yet investors seemed to find some solace in the view that Ireland at least had come clean about the worst of its troubles. Irish government bonds and the Irish Stock Exchange rose, while European Union officials expressed confidence in what Ireland had done.

Finance Minister Brian Lenihan announced that Ireland will pump euro6.4 billion into Anglo Irish Bank, euro3 billion into Allied Irish Bank and euro2.7 billion into Irish Nationwide Building Society.

Citing Irish Central Bank conclusions published Thursday, Lenihan said the government expects to spend a total of euro45 billion ($60 billion) in resurrecting five banks — equivalent to euro10,000 for every man, woman and child in Ireland. Of the five, only Bank of Ireland will require no new state aid.

“This is a horrible legacy, the figures are numbing, and one would really wish we didn’t have this legacy from our property bubble and our banking system. But we had it, we have to deal with it,” said the government’s communications minister, Eamon Ryan.

Irish banks borrowed heavily from foreign lenders and plowed the money into Ireland’s overheated property market — then papered over the true scale of the wreckage when the global credit crisis broke the real-estate bubble two years ago.

“Some of the banks have spent a considerable period of time trying to conceal the existence of these losses,” Lenihan said.

Meanwhile, Moody’s Investor Services cut Spain’s public debt rating, an expected move that provided a further sign that Europe faces a long, hard fight to overcome its debt crisis.

The European Union welcomed Ireland’s harsh assessment as designed to consume as much bitter medicine as possible now. Lenihan said the government was determined to return to 3 percent deficit spending — the European Union’s often-violated limit — by 2014 and would publish a four-year plan in November that will mean even harsher spending cuts for his recession-hit country.

EU competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia said Lenihan’s announcement “brings clarity” and foresaw EU approval for Ireland’s attempt to conclude its 2-year bailout struggle.

And EU monetary commissioner Olli Rehn said he doubted that Ireland would need emergency aid from a rescue fund established earlier this year by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Greece has already tapped that fund to the tune of euro110 billion, but Ireland has already secured sufficient funds through mid-2011 and insists it won’t need external aid.

The Irish bailouts represent “a one-off cost measure that will be reflected in this year’s deficit figures,” Rehn said. “It is really large but manageable on condition that Ireland can … present a convincing multiannual fiscal strategy covering the years 2011-2014.”

Analysts remained skeptical, saying Ireland appeared to be playing for time in hopes that its key trading partners, the United States and Britain, would resume strong growth and pull the Irish economy up with them. Ireland hosts 1,000 multinational companies, mostly American.

“Ireland really has to pray for the best,” said Daniel Gros, director of the Center for European Policy Studies.

Gros said worsening global markets, or stubbornly high interest rates on Irish borrowing, might mean Thursday’s supposedly “final” bank-bailout figures might prove to be another false dawn. “At that point it might be difficult for Ireland to go it alone,” he said, referring to the prospect of an EU-IMF rescue.

Brian Lucey, economics professor at Trinity College Dublin, said the government had taken too long to reach this point. He said he expected ultimate losses at Anglo and Allied Irish to be several billion euros’ greater.

“Alas I don’t think we have final figures. We’ve had about four final figures for Anglo,” Lucey said, referring to previous government announcements.

The international investors who have driven Ireland’s cost of borrowing to euro-era highs this year reacted positively.

The yield paid out on 10-year Irish treasuries fell from its early 6.9 percent high to 6.57 percent by late Thursday. The premium demanded versus German bonds, the benchmark of euro-zone credit worthiness, declined to 4.3 points. At those rates, Ireland remains the second-riskiest national borrower in Europe behind Greece, and with Portugal a close third.

Lenihan said Ireland could not afford to trim its costs by requiring holders of Anglo’s senior bonds to eat some of the losses.

“We have to fund ourselves as a state with senior debt. And other banks have to fund themselves with senior debt,” Lenihan said. “You cannot send out a message in an economy like Ireland that senior debt can be dishonored. We’re far too dependent on international investment.”

However, he said the government would negotiate cut-rate settlements with Anglo’s most junior holders of “subordinated” bonds with a face value of euro2.4 billion. This could reduce Ireland’s estimated euro29.3 billion price tag for Anglo by a billion or two.

Economist Lucey said Ireland was needlessly tying its future fortunes to keeping all senior bondholders happy. He said bondholders should be forced, on a case-by-case basis, to accept punishment for the risks they took in loaning to Irish banks.

“We haven’t been told who owns this senior debt,” he said.

The biggest surprise in Thursday’s announcement was confirmation that Ireland has conceded it will effectively nationalize Allied Irish Banks, once the country’s largest financial institution but now so weakened by loan write-offs that it cannot borrow on international markets.

Allied Irish has been trying to prevent majority state ownership by selling off its foreign assets, including a Polish bank and a stake in M&T Bank of New York. But the Central Bank report dramatically raised Allied Irish’s cash requirements by the end of the year to euro10.4 billion, up from Irish regulators’ previous requirement of euro7.4 billion.

As a result, two senior Allied Irish executives announced their resignations Thursday and Lenihan said the government expected to fund that euro3 billion shortfall in addition to its existing euro3.5 billion investment.

Analysts said the outcome would mean the mass issuing of new Allied Irish shares to the government, creating a stake exceeding 90 percent.

Allied Irish shares initially plummeted more than 30 percent, but rallied, closing down 8 percent at euro0.51.

The Central Bank announced that another state-seized Dublin lender, Irish Nationwide, also will receive euro2.7 billion more, doubling the amount already spent by the government to keep it afloat.

The government plans to split Anglo into two banks, one to retain its deposits, the other to manage the disposal of euro37 billion in largely defaulting loans on property assets in Ireland, Britain and the United States.

The Central Bank warned that, under “a severe hypothetical stress scenario,” the long-term Anglo bailout bill could reach euro34.3 billion.

The bank said this worst-case scenario would involve the bank’s loans on property-based assets losing 65 percent of their original value and remaining at that level in 2020. Ireland’s property prices are currently 35 percent to 50 percent below their 2007 peaks.

Irish Nationwide is expected to be sold to foreign investors or merged with one of Ireland’s two remaining healthy banks, Bank of Ireland or Irish Life & Permanent.

___

Online:

Irish Central Bank, http://www.financialregulator.ie/Pages/home.aspx

Dublin: Anglo-Irish Bank Bailout Will Cost Taxpayers €29.3bn At Least

30 Sep

 

The Financial Regulator has estimated that the final cost of restructuring Anglo Irish will be €29.3bn, though it says another €5bn could be needed.

Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan attends a press conference on the banking bailout at Government Buildings in Dublin this morning. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

 Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan attends a press conference on the banking bailout at Government Buildings in Dublin this morning. Photograph: Frank Miller/The Irish Times

The Government had committed €23bn to Anglo by the end of August.

The bank is to be split into an asset recovery bank and a funding bank.

The Financial Regulator said the asset recovery bank would need €29bn, while the funding bank would require €250m.

Its estimate was based on advice from the National Asset Management Agency on how much it will pay Anglo Irish Bank for the loans it is taking on.

The bank has taken discounts of 58% so far, but the Regulator’s assessment estimates a discount of 67% on the remaining loans.

But the Regulator carried out an additional assessment based on an ‘extreme’ scenario, which included a discount of 70% on the rest of the NAMA loans. This led to the additional €5bn ‘extreme’ estimate.

A special Cabinet meeting last night signed off on the figures. The early morning announcement was timed to secure a head start on markets that have been nervous about the scale of the State’s exposure to Ireland‘s banks.

In a statement, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said that while the overall level of State support to the banks remains ‘manageable’, there will have to be further ‘consolidation’ of the public finances next year, over and above the targets already announced.

He also said greater certainty on the final cost of repairing the banking system would provide reassurance to the international markets.

He added that the National Treasury Management Agency had decided not to proceed with the remaining auctions of Government bonds scheduled for the next two months, but would return to the bond market in 2011.

Irish borrowing costs fell slightly on bond markets after the announcements on the banks.

The interest rate demanded by investors to lend money to Ireland for ten years was at 6.81%, down from 6.9% earlier.

The gap between Irish and German costs was steady compared with yesterday.

AIB to get €3bn , Nationwide to get €2.7bn

AIB and Irish Nationwide will also require more money from State.

The development will push Ireland’s deficit to 32% for this year, according to the Minister for Finance.

AIB will need a further €3bn on top of existing State funds being converted into shares.

That is likely to push the Government’s shareholding to a majority stake potentially over 90%, but the bank will retain a stock market listing.

Shares in AIB dropped by almost 20% to 45 cent in early trading in Dublin.

Irish Nationwide will need a further €2.7bn, bringing its total bailout to €5.4bn.

Minister Lenihan has confirmed that AIB Chairman Dan O’Connor will step down within the coming weeks.

AIB’s Managing Director, Colm Doherty, will also leave the bank before the end of the year.

Asked whether the the pair had chosen to stand down or had been asked to leave the institution, Mr Lenihan said discussions had been conducted with AIB on his behalf by the NTMA and agreement was reached.

He said there has to be change because the existing board has been unable to attract sufficient capital.

The Minister said that in conjunction with the recapitalisation of the bank, he expects there will be progressive management and board change at AIB.

The Government has accelerated the process of transferring loans to NAMA to get final figures to repair Ireland’s banking system.

Anglo Irish Bank’s remaining loans will be transferred by the end of October, while loans from all of the other banks will now be transferred in one single batch each by the end of the year.

Market analysts have welcomed the figures. Analysts said they provide much-needed clarity on the anticipated final cost of the Irish bank restructuring, which could come to €46bn in total.

In a statement this morning, Central Bank Governor Patrick Honohan said the higher costs will mean a bigger deficit for Ireland.

He said that would require a reprogramming of budgetary profile.

He added that it was important to recognise most of the funding would come from other sources.

———–

UPDATE:

Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan has said that the €3bn in cuts in December’s Budget would have to be ‘upped’ and ‘significantly’.

He said some of the Irish banks had deliberately concealed massive losses even before the emergence of the banking crisis.

Mr Lenihan said the State now had to downsize Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide to stop them becoming a systemic threat to the State itself.

The Central Bank announced this morning that the bill to bailout Anglo Irish Bank is expected to be €29.3bn, although under a worst case scenario, the figure could be €34bn.

The Central Bank said AIB and Irish Nationwide would also require more funding from the State.

Earlier, Taoiseach Brian Cowen said that the Government remains on target to reduce the Budget deficit to 3% by 2014.

Critics have called for that deadline to be extended, arguing that the measures required to meet the deadline would be too brutal and trigger a slump.

However, addressing the IBEC HR Conference, Mr Cowen warned that there were no soft options solutions for economic recovery.

He acknowledged that people were rightly angry about the cost of bailing out the banks.

He described those costs as an appalling reflection on the lending policies pursued by the banks.

He described the period between now and the end of the year as crucial for Ireland.

He echoed Finance Minister Brian Lenihan’s comments that a four-year budgetary plan is being prepared and will be published in early November, adding that this would build confidence at home and abroad in our fiscal policy and capacity to meet targets.

He said that for the past two years Ireland has been battling a recession that has crippled the Western world and seriously threatened the country.

However, if the Government had not implemented its cutbacks over the last two years, he said, this year’s Budget deficit would have hit 20% – not including what he called the once-off accountancy treatment of the bank recapitalisation costs.

He reiterated the Government’s recovery strategy, including stabilising the country’s finances, fixing the banking system, driving competitiveness and transforming the Pubic Service.

However, he warned that the country could not continue to borrow €20 for every €50 spent on services.

He acknowledged that money markets remain difficult adding that constant vigilance was required. He described the numbers outlined to support Anglo Irish Bank as stark, but manageable.

Speaking at a press conference in Government Buildings, Minister Lenihan said he did not anticipate that hospitals or schools would have to close over the coming years as part of the fiscal adjustments.

But he added that he does expect that there will have to be a fundamental reappraisal of public services in order to secure absolute value for money in their delivery.

———

UPDATE: ADDITION:

A 41-year-old man charged with criminal damage after a concrete mixer truck was driven up to the gates of Leinster House yesterday morning has been remanded on bail at Dublin District Court.

Joe McNamara, originally from Achill in Co Mayo, was remanded on bail to 25 November on condition he does not come to the unlawful attention of gardaí during that time.

Gardaí were ordered by the judge in the case to preserve all CCTV imagery from Leinster House at the time the cement truck was driven to the gates.

The decision followed an application by legal representatives for Mr McNamara as part of the bail hearing.

An application by gardaí that he be ordered to stay away from Anglo Irish Bank on St Stephen’s Green in Dublin was not included in bail conditions.

Mr McNamara was arrested yesterday after the truck, with the words ‘Toxic Bank Anglo’ on the drum and a billboard on the back saying ‘all politicians should be sacked’, was driven at the gates of Leinster House on the day the Dáil returned following the summer recess.

It was the second time the truck was used in such a protest. It blocked the entrance to a branch of Anglo Irish Bank in Galway last April.

Live Coverage As Full Cost Of Anglo-Irish Bank Is Revealed

30 Sep

LIVE – Anglo Irish Bank

Thursday, 30 September 2010 11:47

Live coverage as the full cost of Anglo Irish Bank is revealed.

Watch live: Dáil | Seanad

* Full cost of Anglo Irish Bank to be at least €29.3bn
* AIB to receive an additional €3bn
* Irish Nationwide to receive a further €2.7bn

11.39 Fine Gael Finance Spokesman Michael Noonan has claimed the Government has failed in its primary duty to protect the State’s creditworthiness.

Mr Noonan told reporters that far from being too big to fail, Anglo Irish Bank had proved too big to save, and the Government’s efforts to do so had put the country’s creditworthiness at risk.

Proof of that, he said, could be seen in the fact the country could not now afford to go to the bond markets.

Mr Noonan insisted that while the Government might be fully funded, this decision would make it more difficult for commercial banks to raise money and would mean continued credit restrictions and ultimately job losses.

He said a New York Times headline had asked ‘can one bank sink a country?’. He said Anglo had come ‘damn close to it’.

Asked about the Government’s proposed four-year plan for the economy, the Limerick East TD said the Coalition was coming to the end of its days and had no mandate to make plans for the next four years.

11.36 The European Union Competition Chief Joaquin Almunia has welcomed the ‘clarity’ provided by Ireland regarding the State aid provided to the banks.

11.26 The Sinn Féin motion of no confidence in the Minister for Finance will only be debated if Fine Gael or Labour back it and give it time.

11.17 The Dáil has resumed the debate on a Fine Gael motion on the economy.

Party whips are meeting to arrange the extra time for the Anglo debate, which is now due to start at 12:45pm.

11.16 The Governor of the Central Bank, Patrick Honohan, will be appearing live on RTÉ’s News At One at lunchtime.

10.55 The Taoiseach has told the Dáil there will be more time set aside to discuss the Anglo figures. A three-hour debate will begin from 12.30pm. There will also be time set aside next week.

10.53 Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said the Anglo bill is the price of failure, the price of the property bubble, the price of bad government, and it is the bill that Fianna Fáil have left the people of Ireland.

Sinn Féin’s Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin said his party has tabled a motion of no confidence in the Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan.

10.51 In the Dáil, the cost of the Anglo bail out has been raised by the Opposition leaders who have criticised the amount of time being set aside to debate the Anglo figures.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny said Ireland is waking up to another national crisis.

He said the people now find themselves owning another bank while all they want to own is their own homes. Mr Kenny said the fact of the matter is that the govt’s banking strategy is now in shreds.

He also said the credibility of the Government, the Taoiseach and the Finance Minister in respect of the banks is now in tatters.

He said the failure of the banking strategy is now threatening Ireland.

10.50 On the question of whether the Government could have moved quicker in resolving the banking crisis, Mr Lenihan said of course he would like to have seen progress much more quickly.

But Ireland has a small banking system in a small economy and does not have the tools at its disposal that the British government has through the Bank of England, he said.

Ireland does have the European Central Bank, which has been a strong bulwark, he added.

But the State did not have great options to move at a faster pace, he claimed.

Mr Lenihan said NAMA was a much more aggressive and ambitious option than what had been chosen in other states. But he said it had involved going into the banks, looking at the loan books and making an independent valuation of them, and this was necessarily a protracted operation.

But today the Government has brought that process to conclusion, he said, and it couldn’t have gone any faster if it had wanted to bring a credible solution to the problems.

10.45 Irish borrowing costs continue to fall on bond markets this morning after the announcements on the banks.

The interest rate demanded by investors to lend money to Ireland for ten years was at 6.77%, down from 6.9% earlier. The gap between Irish and German costs was steady compared with yesterday.

Meanwhile, AIB shares dropped over 25% after the Finance Minister said the bank would need more funding and said both its Chairman and Managing director will step down by the end of the year.

10:35 Asked why the State had decided not to go ahead with bond auctions in October, November & December, Finance Minister Brian Lenihan said the NTMA had advised against the auctions because of the very high bond spread.

He said the four-year budgetary framework would be published in November and the markets would need to time and space to digest those plans, the plans announced today and see the fiscal adjustments being implemented.

Traditionally there is no auction in December, he added.

10.33 The Dáil is to debate the Anglo affair for three hours, beginning at lunchtime.

In an unusual move, Taoiseach Brian Cowen has turned up to take the Order of Business in the House. Normally, he does not attend on Thursdays.

Bradford: Liquid Cocaine Smuggling Detection Problem Solved

30 Sep

Drug smugglers trying to hide cocaine in bottles of rum could be stopped in their tracks through a technique tested by British scientists.

Drug smuggling detection problem solved Enlarge photo 

The method, involving laser light, detected the dissolved substance in a variety of different coloured glass containers of ethanol as well as branded light and dark rum including Bacardi and Lamb’s, the study showed.

 Many attempts are made to illegally transport drugs into Britain – the most common being cocaine.

Currently, customs officials have to open bottles to test for cocaine – which has been dissolved in drinks such as rum to make it more difficult to detect – using high performance liquid chromatography.

But according to the study, published in Drug Testing and Analysis, the Raman spectroscopy technique works quickly through the packaging without having to disturb the container.

Researchers from the Universities of Bradford and Leeds said a portable Raman instrument may be the “solution” to detection problems as it allows for the “fast and effective screening of different solutions over a very short space of time”.

Using the laser technique to identify and analyse molecules as the light interacts with them and causes vibrations, the team found it could detect cocaine in rum at concentrations above 8 per cent.

Cork: Man Arrested As Gardai Seize Cannabis Worth €400,000

30 Sep

 

A 36-year-old man was arrested after drugs with an estimated street value of €400,000 were seized in Cork.

The cannabis resin was seized at a house at Ashcroft on the old Blackrock road in Cork city in a planned operation by the Cork divisional drugs squad.

A car driven by the man was stopped at Ballinlough in the city at 6.30pm yesterday evening.

A small quantity of drugs was seized from the man’s car.

In a follow-up search at the man’s home, detectives seized between 60kg and 65kg of cannabis resin.

They also seized a small quantity of cannabis herb, cocaine, weighing scales, mixing agents and other drug dealing equipment.

The man is being questioned at the city’s Bridewell Garda