Analysis > March 2016

A pyrrhic victory for Apple in FBI encryption battle

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent The announcement late last night that the FBI is dropping its court case against Apple, aimed at forcing the computer giant to program a back door into a terrorists iPhone, is a victory of sorts. But the genie is out of the bottle on this issue, and won’t be going back in. It all began with the shooting dead in San Bernadino in the US last year of 14 people by terrorist Rizwan …

IBRC loans probe falls victim to political hiatus  

Last year there was a political storm over the sale of loans by IBRC, formerly Anglo Irish Bank. A tide of unease swept across Leinster House and prompted the Government to establish a Commission of Investigation last June. Many loans were sold by the bank at a discount – the question for the judge leading the investigation, Brian Cregan, was whether the taxpayer suffered an unnecessary loss. Among transactions under the microscope was the sale of SiteServ. It was sold to …

The era of VR is virtually a reality

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent When technology historians look back at 2016 in fifty years time, it will very likely be seen as the year that virtual reality finally became, well,  a reality. After decades of false dawns, we now have the hardware and software to make it happen. The three most promising hardware manufacturers in the space – Sony, HTC and Oculus – are all lining up to launch their first proper consumer products onto the market. …

Student fees – pay now, pay later?

How to address the widely acknowledged funding crisis at Third Level is, arguably, the most pressing education decision that will face the next government. A Government-commissioned report on how best to tackle the funding shortfall was finalised last week and has now been sent to the Department of Education. That study outlines several options, including the introduction of an income contingent loan scheme to cover third level fees, a kind of “study now, pay later” system. The report maps out …

Eventually, a government will emerge

Back in 2007, when I was a Political Correspondent for RTÉ News, my then six year old daughter made a poster to put up in the kitchen on the day of the General Election count. “Hurrah,” it said, “the election is over!” It was clear what she was thinking – trips to the playground! Going swimming! Maybe even ice-cream! It had been a long campaign. But as I looked at it, I was thinking that while the count might be …

The complex cost of scrapping Irish Water

Some commentators have said that scrapping Irish Water could cost €7 billion. Irish Water estimates that over the next five years, scrapping domestic water charges would cost it €1.6 billion in revenue foregone. Abolishing the utility company structure puts at risk planned reductions in operating costs of another €1.6 billion over the next five years. This sum has been agreed by Irish Water’s regulator, so they will be held to account on this. This cost reduction is driven by the …