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Business Briefs Government eyes money in dormant bank accounts

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Harry Keaney

Got a bank account in Ireland that you have not touched in five years? If so, now may be the time to check it out. That’s because increasing attention is being focused on so-called dormant accounts and the possibility that the government may seize them.

There are believed to be at least £250 million in dormant accounts in Ireland.

However, a question has arisen over whether the government can legally seize the accounts. At present, there is no legal definition of a dormant account but news reports say the government is proposing that an account untouched in five years would be regarded as dormant.

The are different suggestions about what the government would do with the seized money. One Dáil committee suggested it be used for "specified purposes of societal and community benefit." Another is that it be held by the state in a special account so that anybody able to show title to a seized account could have the money returned to them.

Financial institutions use the money in dormant accounts to bolster their profits.

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Fancy figures

The Irish government has reported its biggest treasury surplus ever for the year just ended. Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy said the results highlight the continuing soundness of the public finances.

The government took in £1.2 billion more than it spent last year and £100 million more than the government had forecast at budget time.

Tax revenue climbed 15 percent to £18.6 billion. Current spending climbed 10 percent to just over £12 billion.

The value of food and drink exports last year grew by almost 3 percent, to over £5 billion. Food and drink production is Ireland’s largest indigenous industry. Six of the 10 biggest Irish-owned companies are in the sector.

The volume of beef exports increased by 8 percent, but earnings were up by only 1.5 percent to £1.03 billion because of poor prices. All the bigger sectors showed improvement, but the value of fish exports was down 9 percent, lamb by 4.5 percent, pork by

2 percent and mushrooms by 1.5 percent.

Textile woes

The textile industry in Ireland has been going through a rough patch.

In Longford, the textile company Barbour Threads is to close with the loss of 103 jobs. The company was formerly known as Longford Textiles.

Desmonds, in Northern Ireland, which made clothes for Marks & Spencer, recently announced it would shed about 130 jobs.

More than 400 jobs will be lost at factories operated by a clothing manufacturer, Hawkesbay, because of the closure of its factory at Ardee, Co. Louth, with the loss of 300 jobs. Another 90 jobs will go at its plant in Newtownards, Co. Down, and another 70 jobs will be lost in Derry.

And last September, Fruit of the Loom put its remaining 1,900 workers in Donegal and Derry on a three-day work week.

Fruit of the Loom, with headquarters in Chicago, recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company in County Donegal said that workers due to be laid off will be paid their appropriate settlements, despite the company filing for bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Some 200 people are due to be soon laid off by the company, reducing the workforce to about 1,000. The bankruptcy protection applies only to the company’s American plants.

Lamont leaves

Owen Lamont has resigned as managing director of NTL Northern Ireland, a subsidiary of NTL, an Anglo-American telecom giant which acquired former Telecom Éireann cable company Cablelink last summer for £535 million.

Lamont has led the firm in Ireland since 1995. He will remain with the company in an advisory capacity. He is leaving NTL to set up his own internet firm.

Lamont’s term as president of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce expires in April.

Sligo on the highway

Sligo is now a hot destination on the information superhighway, thanks to http://www.SligoWeb.com.

Those logging on may explore Sligo by town or village and get information on what jobs are available, what to do and when events are scheduled. There is also an internet phone directory where businesses may enter their contact details so that even if they do not have their own website, they can be found on the internet. Visitors can even get a free email address for life just by visiting the Sligo web. SligoWeb.com has more than 239,373 hits per month.

Looking at Leitrim

The international credit card company MBNA may set up a base in Carrick on Shannon, Co. Leitrim, to expand its Irish operations. It is at present considering purchasing a 13-acre parcel of land in the town. MBNA employs 185 people in its Dublin headquarters.

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