By Harry Keaney
Eviction is an emotive word in Ireland, but now, even as the country is booming, the word so often associated with Famine times is in the headlines again.
Fianna Fáil TD Eoin Ryan claimed last week that there has been a "phenomenal" 700 percent increase in the number of evictions from private flats, or apartments, in Dublin as greedy landlords cash in on rising prices.
In some cases, people have been intimidated and harassed out of leaving their accommodation by owners hoping to make a quick profit from the growing housing demand.
A report prepared by Dublin Corporation’s housing department, due to be soon presented to the city council, showed a 700 percent increase in evictions from private accommodation during the past two years.
Ryan said that in his constituency, landlords could make £80 to £100 a week for a bed-sit, and now often wanted a 25 to 30 percent increase in rent, although no improvements had been made.
Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter
"A mother and her three children were thrown out of their flat just before Christmas, not having been served with any notice, and had to spend the ‘season of goodwill’ in a bed and breakfast," Ryan said.
And he added that a recent letting of a flat, sought by more than 20 people, led to the landlord "holding an auction on the steps of the flat for the highest bidder."
The Irish American Building Society will hold its next general membership meeting on this Thursday, Jan. 21, at 9 p.m. in Rosie O’Grady’s, upstairs in the Manhattan Club, at 800 Seventh Ave., at 52nd Street.
The speaker will be Professor Edward D. Re, Jr., of the Pratt Institute. Re is professor in the construction management department and graduate professor in the facilities management department. The topic of discussion will be Mayor Giuliani’s plans and proposals to licence contractors in New York City. The lecture will be followed by open discussion. There will also be a two-hour networking cocktail party. Admission is free and members are encouraged to bring a guest. For information, call (212) 376-5324.
Ringing in changes
Telecom Éireann, the Irish state telecommunications company, has a new chairman. He is Brian Thompson who, prior to 1991, was executive vice president of MCI Corporate Communications. He subsequently became chairman and chief executive of LCI and, last December, retired as vice chairman of U.S. telecom group Qwest following its takeover of LCI.
Meanwhile, Telecom Éireann is preparing to go public, and Thompson has predicted that a stock market offering would attract a strong response from investors in the U.S. It is believed that the Irish government, which is expected to allow 35 percent of the company to be floated initially, has still to decide on the listing issue. Workers currently own 14.9 percent of Telecom through an employee share option program. Workers’ interests will be represented by former foreign affairs minister Dick Spring, who will be joining the board.
Mention immigration and most people think of settling into a new land, such as the U.S. But now, it seems a lot of returning immigrants, and those thinking of doing so, need help settling back into their homeland. Ireland has, of course, changed a lot in recent years, and "going back" can be a trying and frustrating experience. However, information on acclimatizing to the new Ireland may be obtained by logging onto a new website at www.amireland.com/ireland/movepage/home.html.
A major Irish food processing company has had to go to France for workers because it cannot get Irish staff to fill up to 400 jobs. "Everybody has a view that because of this Celtic Tiger nobody should have to work for less than £300 or £400 a week," said an executive with the company, who asked that his firm not be named. He added that his company had interviewed a large number of young men who simply did not want to work. He said recruitment firms were competing against a large black economy and a lax social welfare system. The company may have to set up some operations outside Ireland because it cannot hire or train enough skilled butchers. A similar situation exists in sectors of the hotel and bar trade and in construction.
Meanwhile, Dunnes Stores in Ireland has been criticized for leading attempts to extend 24-hour shopping all year round. A union official claimed staff members were told that if they did not work the unsociable hours, others would do so.
In County Wicklow last week, three brothers from Greystones became multimillionaires in an afternoon, according to the Sunday Business Post. Lands owned by Clive, Lance and Wilson Evans at Charlesland are said to be now worth about £30 million after Wicklow County Council decided to rezone more than 150 acres for housing and industrial development. Property advisers say the land could be worth more than £40 million with planning permission.
It’s a deal
The merging of Baltimore Technologies and Zergo Holdings was completed last week. Irish financier Dermot Desmond owned a major stake in Baltimore, which is a market leader in e-commerce security. Next up may be a Nasdaq flotation.