Analysis > Government

David Murphy: Don’t expect a giveaway Budget

It is less than five weeks to the Budget and the annual routine of ministers arguing their cases for more money for their departments is well under way. Many of the ministers have legitimate cases. Despite the remarkable economic turnaround money is tight. EU rules prevent countries from excessive borrowing to pay for day-to-day spending. This week Minister for Finance Michael Noonan tried to manage expectations regarding the amount of money available. He stood by the Government’s previously stated position …

The Governor writes…

You wouldn’t expect the Governor of the Central Bank to recommend the Government does something wacky in the Budget, and in his pre-budget letter to the Minister for Finance, the governor doesn’t disappoint. His key recommendations are, firstly a long-term need to reduce debt well below the 60% limit set by the Maastricht Treaty and, secondly any budget-day help for first time buyers should not make things worse. The Governor would like to see long-term budgetary targets that can “act …

Growing anger in the Irish science and research community

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent In the early 1990s, Irish scientists were angry. Cutbacks in already reduced funding for research, inadequate grants for post-grads and a lack of resources for equipment led to a ground swell of resentment among the science community here. The Irish Research Scientists Association was formed and a lobbying campaign began. And when its voice eventually became loud enough, the government of the time started to take the concerns seriously. Almost of quarter of …

Laws to cut mortgage rates could be counter productive

A lot of mortgage customers feel ripped off. The reason is simple. Many people on standard variable rates are paying interest between 3.1% and 4.5%. Those lucky enough to have trackers are generally paying between 0.5% and 1.5%. So it is not surprising that the people with variable loans aren’t happy. The new Programme for Government promises to tackle the problem. It says it is “not ethically acceptable for Irish banks to charge excessive interest rates on standard variable rate …

Screaming in fiscal space

Nobody outside Leinster house seemed to be too bothered by the prospect of the next government (or governments – however many it takes to reach the end of the forecast period in 2021) having an extra €2bn to play with. But it seems they do, thanks to a largely expected expansion of our old friend, the fiscal space. The Department of Finance published a “slimline” version of the Stability Programme Update on Tuesday night, giving the expected update on its …

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 hat-trick – three EPP prime ministers struggle in post-bailout elections

So it’s a hat trick – three in a row. First Portugal, then Spain, now Ireland. Three post-bailout countries went to the polls over the past five months. All were led by prime ministers from the European Peoples Party (EPP), the mainstream conservative block in Europe. All three emerged from their elections as the biggest party in parliament. None of them could put together a new government. And nor could the opposition (with the heavily qualified exception of Portugal – …

Don’t let job projects become political footballs

What can only be described as a remarkable economic recovery is well under way. Also under way is the stampede of Government politicians attempting to take credit for it. Some observers are sceptical about the flurry of good economic news in the twilight weeks of the current Fine Gael and Labour coalition. They are right to be sceptical. As the battle for votes cranks up, and figures are brandished like calling cards by Government politicians, the public may find it …

Five things new Central Bank boss Philip Lane needs to watch in 2016

Mortgage arrears: The outgoing Governor of the Central Bank Patrick Honohan said his biggest regret was the inability to deal with homeowners who were behind on loan repayments. While the overall position is improving, there are still 38,000 mortgage accounts two years or more in arrears. It is this cohort of borrowers who are of most concern. Many will only be solved by insolvency or repossession in 2016. Contrary to expectations, the level of repossessions has remained relatively low. To …

Science strategy is welcome, but implementation is key

By Will Goodbody, Science & Technology Correspondent Now we have it. After two years without one, the government’s new science and research strategy has finally been published. Running to 85 pages, Innovation 2020 certainly appears comprehensive. And it should be, after a long consultation process which saw 80 submissions lodged, and 120 representatives of academia, the public sector and business attend a one day forum, and dozens of one on one meetings with key stakeholders. Six studies were also carried …