By Harry Keaney
Unemployment in the Republic of Ireland has fallen to 213,800, the lowest since May 1984, according to the latest figures from the central statistics office.
Tánaiste Mary Harney said it should be possible to reduce unemployment to 5 percent during the next two years.
The Republic’s unemployment rate is now lower than many other European Union states.
However, the government’s chief whip, Séamus Brennan, said the Quarterly National Household Survey, is a more accurate reflection of unemployment. It currently stands at 7.8 percent.
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Ireland’s minister for international trade, Tom Kitt, will be in New York next week. On Monday, at 12:30 p.m., he will launch the East Coast On-Line Networking Forum at a lunch in Ireland House, 345 Park Avenue. Kitt will speak about the growing number of Irish information technology companies with east coast operations and the opportunities for partnership between Irish and American companies.
Not at the bar
So much for the well-worn stereotype of the Irish as drinkers. In a new study of top beer-drinking countries worldwide by the agency Euromonitor, Ireland does not even get a mention. Topping the list is the Czech Republic where 328 pints were drank per person in 1997. This was followed by Germany, Belgium, the UK, Australia, and the U.S., where consumption was 178 pints per person.
Should an Irish diplomat, even an honorary diplomat, be working for a company whose products are in competition with Irish products? That’s the spirited question arising from Barry Mulligan’s work for Seagram in Romania. Mulligan is Ireland’s honorary consul in Bucharest and he also works with Enterprise Ireland as a trade consultant.
Irish distillers has expressed its dissatisfaction over the matter; Seagram’s Chivas Regal competes directly with Irish Distillers’s Jameson in Romania.
Mulligan told the Irish Times that, as a businessman, he has several commercial interests, among them several research consultancies in Romania.
"I work for all kinds of people and am not in this country solely to promote Irish products," he said. He added that if he only worked on Irish products, he would find it hard to make a living.
Enterprise Ireland uses Mulligan’s company, Mercury SA, to carry out research and a spokesman said his role as a consul was totally separate.
A spokesperson at the department of Foreign Affairs said Mulligan’s work for the department concerned looking after the Irish community in the country and facilitating business people visiting there.
Some of largest electricity consumers in the Republic of Ireland will be able to chose their own supplier by the year 2000 under a new bill introduced to the Dail last week by the minister for Public Enterprise, Mary O’Rourke. It means, for example, that companies such as Northern Ireland Electricity can target some of the Republic’s Electricity Supply Board’s biggest customers.
Enlarged pay load
Pembroke Capital, the aircraft management company in which financier Dermot Desmond’s International Investments and Underwriting has a 50 percent stake, has signed a $320 million order with Boeing for 10 new B717-200 aircraft. When deliveries are completed in May 2001, Pembroke will have 55 aircraft in its fleet. Pembroke is based in the International Financial Services Center. It is involved in the management of aircraft leases, marketing, arranging releases and selling aircraft.
There seems to be no end to the career heights that Irishman Peter Sutherland might scale. The former Irish attorney general, Allied Irish bank chairman, European Union commissioner, GATT talks chairman, and British Petroleum and Goldman Sachs chairman is now being mentioned as a possible successor to Luxembourg’s Jacques Santer as president of the European Commission. Santer’s term concludes at the end of this year.
Focus on tourism
The Irish tourism industry is succeeding because of the exploitation of young workers, Michael Bell, a Labour TD, alleged at a Clare tourism conference last weekend, according to the Clare Champion.
Bell said that Bórd Fáilte Chief Executive John Dully, who addressed the conference banquet earlier, failed to say that the industry can only succeed on the basis of slave labour and long unsocial hours of young people being exploited by the industry, breaking national and
international working laws.
Bell further alleged that hotels and the catering business cannot get Irish people to work with them because they are not paying a reasonable living wage. Most of the people now working in hotels all over Ireland are immigrants who cannot get work in their own countries, he said.