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Business Briefs Michael Howard, ex-tourist board exec, dies at 54

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Harry Keaney

Michael Howard, a Dublin native who was a long-time official of the Irish Tourist Board in the U.S., died last week in Atlanta. He was 54.

"His friends in the Irish Tourist Board are deeply saddened by his passing," said tourist board spokeswoman Orla Carey in New York.

After obtaining a degree in history from University College, Dublin, Howard immigrated to Chicago in 1970 and soon began working in the tourism industry. He first worked with the Jamaica Tourist Board and, in 1972, joined the Irish Tourist Board, working in New York and Boston.

In 1996, he became the board’s southeast manager in Atlanta.

He retired in 1998 from his Atlanta position, where one of his main responsibilities was planning golfing trips.

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After his retirement, he worked for Perry Golf in Dunwoody, planning golfing trips to England, Ireland and Scotland.

The cause of death was colon cancer. His body was cremated.

He is survived by his wife, Carol; mother, Gertrude; brothers Patrick and Peter and a sister, Joyce.

In New York, Michael Howard will be remembered on Tuesday, July 11, at 6:30 p.m., when a memorial Mass will be offered in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan. The Irish Tourist Board invites all to attend.

England’s watching

The Bank of England is concerned about overheating in the Irish economy. The bank has warned that huge increases in property prices and mortgage finance in Ireland pose risks for the financial stability of other European Union states, including Britain.

In its mid-year financial stability review, Bank of England Deputy Governor David Clementi stressed the need for central banks and regulators to keep a close eye on developments within the Irish economy.

The review also raises the question whether domestic banks in states such as the Republic of Ireland would be robust enough to withstand any subsequent correction or drop in property prices.

A spokesman for the Central Bank of Ireland said the comments echoed many of the sentiments already expressed by the Irish central bank at regular intervals. Indeed, the Irish bank has already begun examining how well-placed Irish financial institutions are to weather shocks such as further increases in inflation or a slowdown in economic growth.

The Bank of England also refers to the high rates of credit expansion, with Ireland and Portugal at the forefront with lending growing by 20 percent, double the rate of France and Germany. The bank states there is a close link between credit growth and asset price increases, in particular mortgage lending and house prices.

Inflation.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has admitted that Ireland’s inflation rate could go as high as 6.2 percent during the next few months. Such an increase would wipe out a 5.5 percent national pay increase agreement. Also, Ireland’s Central Bank has warned that rising costs would make the economy vulnerable to a downturn in the U.S., which is the source of much foreign investment in Ireland.

Echo business honors

In Ireland last week, at the annual dinner of the Irish Chamber of Commerce in the USA, Irish Echo Newspaper president/publisher Claire O’Gara Grimes presented awards to the CEOs of the "Leading U.S. Companies in Ireland" as featured in the Echo’s Business IE magazine supplement.

The Echo, the largest Irish American weekly, chose 10 companies from the almost 400 U.S. companies in Ireland to receive this award. Criteria for selection included a company’s impact on the Celtic Tiger economy, community involvement, employee level and environmental integrity.

The recipients were: Abbott Laboratories, Citibank, Compaq, Dell, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, Intel Ireland, Microsoft, Schering-Plough and Thermo King.

Held at the Kildare Country Club, the evening’s guest speaker was Dr. Michael Smurfit, chairman and CEO of the Jefferson Smurfit Group, accompanied by special guests: Michael Sullivan, U.S. ambassador to Ireland; Maurice Buckley, president/CEO of ICCUSA; and Ian Hyland, deputy director, Business and Finance Magazine.

Coming clean

Irish politicians, judges and senior public servants will have to produce tax -clearance certificates within nine months of election or appointment. They will also have to make a statutory declaration within one month of election or appointment stating that their tax affairs are in order. The new provisions are part of new legislation published last week by Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy.

War on tobacco

The tobacco industry suffered a defeat last week when European Union health ministers narrowly supported tough new controls on cigarette labelling. Despite strong German opposition, ministers supported Health Commissioner David Byrne’s plan to display large warnings on tobacco products. For the first time, manufacturers will also be forced to reveal up to 200 additives that are contained in cigarettes.

Germany has consistently spoke out against tougher controls and repeated its opposition at the meeting while Spain, Austria and Luxembourg abstained from voting.

Byrne, who’s from Ireland, has vowed to step up his battle to end the appeal of smoking to teenagers.

IDA boss retires

Denis Hanrahan, 56, chairman of Ireland’s Industrial Development Authority and head of group corporate development at Bank of Ireland, is retiring at the end of this month. For six years, from 1975, he was Aer Lingus’s senior vicepresident for North America.

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