By Harry Keaney
Omagh Minerals will start mining for gold next year in the townland of Cavancaw, about four miles from the town of Omagh, Omagh Minerals’ parent company, European Gold Resources, announced last week. It is believed that, in the area, there is an 11-ton gold reserve in 1.55 million tons of ore.
Gold was last commercially mined in Ireland in Avoca, Co. Wicklow, at the turn of the 19th century.
More than 1,000 jobs in the electronics industry in Northern Ireland could be at risk following the decision of Korean parent company D’woo to quit the business. D’woo has profitable plants in Antrim Town and Carrickfergus. Fears for the jobs arose after D’woo management announced that the company was getting out of the electronics business by swapping its operations for Samsung’s car division. Fears then arose that Samsung might sell the local plant in Antrim or relocate to eastern Europe.
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In tandem with Ireland’s booming economy, employment in private firms in the construction industry rose by 8 percent in the year between October 1997 and October 1998. Meanwhile, mortgage rates in Ireland, just like in the U.S., are falling to record lows. However, the low interest rates do not mean good news for all. The falling rates are expected to bring increased pressure on banks and building societies to introduce charges on customers who have demand deposit accounts. Interest rates are now so low that the return banks and building societies receive from lending the money to the wholesale money market may not even be enough to cover the cost of administering the accounts.
Almost £1 million in forged £20 and £5 notes were seized last week by gárdaí in a house in Darndale, north Dublin. After making the discovery, gárdaí said they may have uncovered a major attempt to flood Dublin with forged notes in the run-up to the busy Christmas season. The Darndale seizure was the fourth find of large amounts of forged notes and followed the discovery of about half a million pounds in forged notes in the Ashbourne/Swords area about four weeks ago. Gárdaí believe that a highly organized criminal gang with access to high quality printing equipment, possibly kept outside Ireland, may be responsible for the forgeries.
The number of visitors coming to the Republic of Ireland rose by 10 percent to 4.5 million in the first nine months of this year compared with the same period in 1997, according to the central statistics office. Tourist revenue for the first six months rose by nine percent to £938 million. There were almost 700,000 visitors from the U.S. and Canada, an increase of 9.5 percent on the first nine months of 1997. Figures for July to September showed there were 2,120,000 visitors to Ireland, almost 10 percent up on summer last year, while 1,096,000 Irish citizens went abroad. Irish holidaymakers spent £453 million abroad while visitors to Ireland spent £606 million.
Hotel sale rumored
The Great Southern Hotel chain is to be put on the market next year, according to the Dublin-based Sunday Tribune newspaper. The sell-off could generate up to £70 million for Air Ríanta, the Irish airports authority, which owns the profitable hotel group. There are eight hotels in the chain, a combination of four-star and three-star properties with a total of 1,017 rooms. The Great Southern Group had a turnover of £22 million in 1997 and had after-tax profits of £2.9 million.
Aer Lingus appointment
The minister for Public Enterprise, Mary O’Rourke, has appointed Dr. John Keane to the board of Aer Lingus. Keane, a consultant ophthalmic physician with the Midland Health Board, replaces the late David Austin. Keane, from Athlone, is a former member of the Voluntary Health insurance board.
Tiger pass by
For thousands of people throughout Ireland, all the hype about the Celtic Tiger economy will mean little this Christmas. More than 88,000 people over the age of 65 will spend Christmas on their own, many for the first time, according to the elderly help organization Alone.
U.S. multinational Sundstrand Corporation has bought Shannon Aircraft Motor Works, in County Clare, for an undisclosed figure, according to the Irish Times. Shannon Aircraft Motor Works repairs and overhauls aircraft motor and generator components. The company serves more than 100 leading airlines, including Aer Lingus and British Airways. It currently employs 77 people, but this figure is expected to increase to 130 during the next three years.