Posts Tagged ‘ Recession ’

Them Old Recession Blues – Ireland’s Pulsing Music Scene

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It’s a sad statistic, but the recession has produced some great music out of this country. The heady days of U2, Something Happens, The Hothouse Flowers and even the great Christy Moore can all be traced back to one constant – the country was on its knees, being an unemployed musician was acceptable and nearly expected, and above all else the people needed a lift.

We are of course right back in the thick of those dark days of the eighties, even worse some would argue. But thankfully our troubadours and balladeers have come out of the woodwork once more, and we’re now truly spoiled for choice in Irish music. Continue reading

Consumer Spending Peaks Since Bailout

consumer-spending1The willingness of the Irish consumer to spend money is at its highest level in three years, regardless of the fact that over 50% of people polled believe their disposable income will have lessened by next year.

A survey done by Behaviour and Attitudes revealed that 55% of people think their wages will decrease by next year, and that the Irish economy will continue to worsen; just 12% said they believe the economy will be better in 2014. Yet surprisingly, consumer confidence has risen, to its highest level since before the 2010 bailout. B&A director Luke Reaper said of the report, “this leads us to believe that Irish consumers, while still viewing the economy negatively, are beginning to weather the storm”. Continue reading

Fingleton Faces The Music Once More

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Former chief executive of Irish Nationwide building society, Michael Fingleton, is once more facing pressure to pay back a €1 million bonus which he was paid before leaving the building society in 2009.

Over the years, Fingleton has rebuffed criticism and calls to return the bonus, saying that he won’t do so on a matter of principle. Fingleton has claimed that a previous agreement with the then government would have seen him return the sum in exchange for essentially leaving him and his finances alone. Enraged that the government had the temerity to investigate the once powerful INBS chief, he reneged on his public agreement to repay the sum of money.

Continue reading

Brutal Noonan Unveils Bombshell Budget

Noonan_Budget_2013_dec052012Upon unveiling  Budget 2013 , the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan said there are signs that the country is emerging from the worst of the economic crisis but despite that he still implemented measures which make the richer richer and the poorer poorer.

He said the bailout programme was being fulfilled, but further cuts were still necessary as we are by no means out of the abyss.

The main highlights of Noonan’s brutal budget, which has no doubt been overseen by Germany prior to publication includes:

No increase in excise duty on petrol or diesel.

From midnight, a packet of 20 cigarettes increases by 10 cent while tobacco will also increase

From midnight, excise duty on a pint or beer or cider will increase by 10 cent, on a standard measure of spirits by 10 cent, and on a bottle of wine by €1.

The rate of VRT and motor tax will increase from 1 January.

Minister Noonan said a property tax would be introduced at a rate of 0.18 per cent — and for properties valued over one million euro it will be 0.25 per cent.

Unearned income for everyone else will become subject to PRSI in 2014.

From 1 July 2013, maternity benefit will be treated as a taxable income, but will continue to be exempt from the Universal Social Charge.

In his Budget speech, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin said Public Service staff numbers will be reduced to around 287,000 in 2013.

In health, the Budget measures will result in the current 50 cent per item prescription charge for medical card holders being increased to €1.50.

People over 70 years of age with a medical card will have it replaced with a GP only card, if their weekly income is €600 to €700 for a single person or €1,200 to €1,400 for a couple.

The amount private patients have to pay for medicines each month, before the State covers the cost, rises from €132 to €144, which will save €10 million.

The health budget for next year will be €13.6 billion which the Government says represents an extra €150 million.

With Budget 2013 comes another wave of hurt and austerity for the people of Ireland, we are no closer to emerging from the abyss despite what propaganda the government sell us.

Editorial: Decision To Jail Quinn Welcomed

Seàn Quinn Junior has this morning visited Mountjoy Prison in Dublin to see his father who began his nine-week sentence for contempt of court yesterday.

Quinn Jnr, who was recently released from Mountjoy after serving three months on the same charge, entered the prison along with his wife Karen through the Training Unit entrance and delivered a bag.

Fallen billionaire Quinn Snr is due to remain in Mountjoy until January 4th after being sentenced in Dublin’s High Court yesterday. Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne said she could not ignore the extent and degree of contempt by Quinn when passing sentence.

Quinn was last night visited by his local parish priest who proclaimed that the business mogul was “tired, emotional and angry” after he was jailed.

The Quinn family maintains that they are being used as scapegoats by the former Anglo Irish Bank in its bid to recoup money it lent to Seán Quinn during the boom years.

The family still boasts strong support in the Cavan and Fermanagh region, having brought many jobs and much needed finance to the area during the good times.

Editorial

Irish News Review welcomes yesterday decision to jail Sean Quinn senior. It is a welcome indication by the Irish judicial system that they are willing to punish those who effectively ruined the country. However the sentence imposed upon Quinn is ridiculously lenient, bordering on laughable. The dethroned businessman is no doubt suffering as he is holed up in his prison cell but with such a short sentence will any justice be served?

Yes Quinn has only been charged with contempt of court but in reality he should be tried for a hell of a lot more. If there is any justice in the world then Quinn will be left to rot behind bars for the rest of his days.

I applaud the decision to jail Quinn yet the state authorities must go that bit further and ensure messers Fitzpatrick and Fingleton become familiar with the interior of a prison cell. But of course a lengthy prison term is due as nine weeks defeats the purpose.

The continued support of the Quinn family in the Cavan and Fermanagh region shouldn’t come as a surprise, this is Ireland after all. There is said to be widespread disbelief at the decision to jail Quinn in that region, one which he brought many jobs and much needed finance to during the boom years. But the people of Cavan and Fermanagh must awake and stop looking to the past, for there will never be a second coming of the “heroic” Quinn clan. They must unite with the rest of Ireland in the condemnation of Quinn, a man who played a key role in destroying Ireland or else risk cutting themselves off from reality. Not one individual who played a part in our demise should receive any support, for they are all traitors to the Irish cause, traitors who only cared about lining their own pockets.

Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

 

Anne Enright’s “The Forgotten Waltz”

Anne Enright’s novel The Forgotten Waltz was published in 2011 and traces the life of Gina Moynihan from mid-Celtic Tiger Ireland to a recession era. Upon her return from Australia, Gina attends her sister Fiona’s housewarming party at her beach view home in Enniskerry, a symbol of the roaring Celtic Tiger of the time. The scene of the party outlines Enright’s satirical views of this time; the house itself, the people, the children multiplying as if being cloned, the “chardonnay years”, as Gina describes them. This suburbanite dream leaves Gina feeling claustrophobic and she retires to the lower garden to have a cigarette as, “It is 2002, and already, none of these people smoke”. It is from this lower part of the garden that Gina sees her future lover, Sean. They will not meet again until Gina is married to Conor with whom she owns a townhouse in Dublin City, perhaps an effort to shy away from the suburban dream that Fiona relishes so much in Enniskerry. As the narrative is in past tense it is evident that Gina’s memories of seeing Sean are now clouded by the love and resentment she feels for him; she remembers a thoughtful looking man, a pretty wife with him and a faceless child of four years old, Evie. Because the narrative is past tense it is evident that Gina’s emotions and feelings have been compromised as she describes people she once loved and cherished with a sort of resentment and bitterness as her relationship with Sean now lies stale, dead and inescapable. Gina leaves her husband Conor, who is tall, broad, tanned and fun-loving for Sean; quiet and small but evidently cripplingly charming, seen from Gina’s perspective as well as the numerous affairs Gina assumes he has had before her. As they embark on their affair Gina leaves Conor with a bleak perspective on the life they had once shared together, believing she was with him, bought a house and married him simply because she felt that was what you should do. Gina moves into her late mother’s home in Terenure where Sean, after eventually leaving his wife and his suburban home, comes to live with her. His dissatisfaction at his life post-recession is evident and very much a part of the downfall of their relationship.

The focus of the story lies very much in Gina’s thoughts on Sean’s daughter, Evie. Evie is very carefully and ambiguously constructed by Enright, it is not clear what, if anything is wrong with the girl. It is clear that following a fall from a swing when she was four Evie developed seizures and underwent much medical attention at the behest of her mother, Aileen. But it is also clear that Evie’s issues run deeper than this for Gina; Evie is both the opening and the closing of the novel as Gina struggles to understand the girl and tries to get to grips with the extent to which her own actions have affected Evie. It is clear that Gina believes it is more than the fall off a swing that has affected Evie’s behaviour and development. Gina finds Evie “peculiar” and also harbours an irrational resentment towards the girl because she feels the affair would not have gone so far had it not been for Evie’s presence in their lives from the very beginning. When Sean and Gina share their first kiss at a party in his family home, they are seen by Evie who fails to understand what she has seen. Gina’s guilt of having done this to a child runs deep. For Gina, a character normally cold and out of touch with her emotions in the book it is clear that jeopardizing a child’s innocence means that you must follow through with your actions – live with life’s consequences. Time passes and Gina and Sean’s love and lust both wither to be left with routine, reality and lonely days for Gina as Sean spends family time in Enniskerry. It is evident that their affair cannot stand to the recession in Irish life, but it must not be abandoned because of Evie.

Gina is a wholly unlikeable character, her lack of emotion for her sister or Conor throughout the novel is striking and her attraction to Sean even when their love has dissolved is irksome and perplexing. Though it is evident Sean is meant to be charming and attractive, in contrast to Conor he is somewhat snake-like; small and suited up, cunning and, similarly to Gina, emotionally absent. However Sean also harbours his own pain over Evie; not being able to help and heal his young daughter and then subsequently destroying her stable and perfect suburban life has brought upon him similar feelings of guilt that Gina has and they cannot abandon each other because Evie has already suffered enough.

Another aspect to the novel that I found to be striking and poignant was Enright’s contrast of post-Celtic Tiger era of Ireland to the mid-Celtic Tiger and then reverting back again. I will explain. As I have mentioned before Enright’s take on Celtic Tiger life is satirical, she mentions it all; the wine consumption, never seen in Ireland as much before, the mobile homes in Brittas Bay, the work weekends away, the children who cry at the sight of the electrician’s cigarette because they have never been exposed to the sight of one before. Enright takes all of these elements and subtly contrasts it to Ireland in the 1970/80s when Fiona and Gina were growing up in Terenure. Gina remembers her childhood with fondness, even the bad parts. For her, the new Irish society is futile; the wine, the suits, the business lunches and dinner events are empty to her as she sits in her old family home alone on Christmas Day, ostracised from the suburbanite dream of her sister and Sean in Enniskerry.

Overall, the novel is a grim reality of an affair in a new and exciting time for professionals in Ireland. There is no happy ending with Sean, no passionate reunion with Conor, no new life started somewhere new and exciting and no breakthrough understanding with Evie. Even as Evie stands before her as a teenager in the closing of the book, Gina still cannot quite get her, “I can’t quite see her face”, Evie remains to her a mystery that she must live with. Gina is left with the reality of being stuck with Sean, stuck with Evie, stuck in her family home in Dublin, looking back on her marriage in fear of realising there was love there after all and a fear of admitting her mistake. Gina is a hard character;tough, unbreakable and eerily calm in the face of her life choices.

News in Brief-Consumer Fear Decreasing While HSE Announces Major Cuts

After last week’s fear of the number thirteen putting the clamps on car buying, this week the Central Statistics Office reports Irish consumer fear is in fact decreasing. We’re increasingly more happy to splash the cash despite the recession being far from over. However rather than an indication of increased wealth these figures only represent the ‘sentiment’ of Irish shoppers, so we’re not crying over our cabbages anymore but we’re still far from boom buying.

The HSE has announced it is to make cuts worth €130 million over the remainder of the year in order to meet Troika’s targets and remain “within budget”. Furniture is listed as one of the areas the executive plans to cut back as well as advertising those crazy, comfortable commercialists. More worrying education and training are also noted as being for the chop. Where will we go when our Doctors don’t know what they’re doing? And where will we sit?!
Apparently 79% of elderly people who live alone do not have internet access, according to the Central Statistics Office (those guys!). Is this news? Age Action Ireland obviously think so. A representative is quoted by thejournal.ie as saying the findings are “worrying”, what because they don’t know what’s trending at the moment? They don’t know what a face book is? The poor sods. Lack of access also causes “barriers for older people to upskill in IT”. Just what we need, more job competition. What a load of . . .

Talking of which Elvis Presley’s unwashed underpants are up for auction. Expected to reach €13,000 next week in Stockport, Cheshire the pants were part of one of Presley’s stage outfits designed to prevent a VPL (visible panty line, for those not versed in the frustrations of fashionistas everywhere.) If only I had a spare €13,000 – then I’d have a spare €13,000.

Back in Ireland it’s Electric Picnic weekend! Hurrah! The final festival of the season and it’s bound to be a good one. Festival survival guides suggest bringing along the usual sun cream, wet weather gear and allow plenty of time for travel. Happy campers are also advised only 48 cans of alcohol per person are allowed. That’s sixteen cans each evening Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If you do manage to get through that lot, festival organisers have advised that alcohol will be available for purchase on site. Thank god.
It is officially silly season – especially after all those pints – the time of the year when with politicians set to out-of-office the media is full of frivolous drivel and a general stupid stupor descends until Christmas. No more so than the Essex lion that stalked Clacton on Monday igniting the nationwide intrigue as well as a hastily created Essex lion twitter account. A mass scrambling of police searching out the beast was called off when it turned out to be a house cat.