By Harry Keaney
Despite, or perhaps because of, the Celtic Tiger economy, the first thing many visitors to Ireland now notice is the traffic congestion in the capital, Dublin. And for those who venture to some of the remote rural areas, there is, on closer examination, few benefits from the much-vaunted boom.
Tackling these problems are two of the main aims of Ireland’s new national development plan for 2000-06. The plan is expected to be published in the coming weeks.
The $40 billion plan, which has more balanced regional development as one of its central planks, divides the Republic into two regions, the better-off east and south and the poorer west, midlands and border area.
The plan calls for investment in roads, public transport, the environment and education as well as increased expenditure for housing and health services.
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The Irish Business Organization will hold a Christmas party on Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. in the Grasshopper Restaurant, 646 Washington Ave., Rte. 20 North, Carlstadt, N.J. Reservations, with $25, should be made by Nov. 19.
The IBO’s normal monthly business meeting will take place in January. Details, call Bill Buckley at (212) 627-2111 or John Corkery at (201) 796-2571.
Ireland now has the highest home ownership rate in the European Union, according to a survey carried out by the European Property Agents Group of the European Real Estates Council.
Ireland also has the highest number of occupants per dwelling. An average of 3.3 people live in Irish homes, compared with the United Kingdom or Portugal, where the average is 2.4. France, Spain and Sweden have the fewest people per household in Europe, while Belgium and Luxembourg follow a close second to Ireland with 2.7 people per home.
Meanwhile, a leading Irish economist, Jerome Casey, has called for intensified government action against those who hoard sites. Casey says Irish housing is currently overvalued.
Nasdaq-quoted Hibernia Foods has recorded earnings before interest, tax and depreciation of $974,000 for the second quarter ended Sept. 30. On an operating basis, Hibernia had a loss of $105,000, compared to a loss of $2.95 million for the same period the previous year. Revenues were increased by 62 percent to $26.4 million.
Bank buys another
Bank of Ireland has emerged as the successful bidder for the state-owned ICC bank. Bank of Ireland’s bid is believed to be about £250 million. Finance Minister Charles McCreevy said Bank of Ireland would now undertake due diligence on ICC prior to making a final agreement on the purchase.
Former Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald is keeping some influential company. He’s on the board of a Bulgarian information technology company, RILA Software, owned by billionaire George Soros. FitzGerald is also on the board of U.S. internet company Votation.com, which is registered in Delaware. In addition, the former taoiseach is a director of information technology companies Paragon and Point Holdings, and is an advisory board member of Bill Gates’s Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia.
Obstacles to e-commerce
A major obstacle to the growth of e-commerce in Ireland is lack of finance and venture capital, and inadequate banking services, according to speakers at last week’s two-day Internet World Ireland event in Dublin.
Gerry McGovern, managing director of the internet consultancy company Nua, said the biggest inhibitor to e-commerce growth is lack of access to genuine venture capital.
Declan Ganley, chairman of the jewelry store Adornis.com, which has raised $60 million in financing and is soon to go online, said he would have used Irish banks to handle his company’s transaction clearance services. But, he pointed out, Irish banks couldn’t offer adequate levels of credit card clearance for electronic transactions, hence the reason he used a U.S. bank instead.
Waterford on info superhighway
AOL Europe is to create 500 jobs during the next five years in Waterford and at the East Point Business park in Dublin. More than 350 of the jobs will in Waterford. AOL Europe is a joint venture between Bertelsmann, of Germany, and the U.S.’s America Online.