By Stephen McKinley
Treat your euros with care, is the message from Ireland’s Central Bank to the public.
While euro notes have been produced to high standards of quality to prevent forgery, public vigilance is still necessary, the Bank’s officials have said, as several high-quality forgeries have appeared in circulation already.
“We would particularly appeal to people not to crumple their banknotes or fold them more than once,” a said.
The spokesman said that Irish bank notes have always had a short life span because Irish people mistreated them.
“We hope that behavior may change a little and that the enthusiasm with which the public have welcomed the euro here will be reflected in how they treat the new notes,” he said.
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Last Friday, a total of 135.5 million euro notes and 1 billion euro coins had entered circulation.
One euro bought 0.893 dollars on Tuesday.
How much did it all cost (in euros)?
Billboards all over Ireland have displayed an enormous euro coin and the words “It’s worth just under 79 pence,” so that the public would grasp a sense of the euro:punt value rate.
But what was the cost of implementing the euro? The Central Bank’s spokesperson Neil Whoriskey said that _70 million had been spent on the changeover in Ireland (that’s 88.9 million euros).
Two thirds of this, Whoriskey said, went toward the cost of producing notes and coins, and the remainder in the storage of new and old currency during the period over New Year’s.
Whoriskey also pointed out that the old currency, both notes and coins, would be recycled and sold: “How much we make all depends on what comes back, so we have no final figure on that.”
A euro changeover board spokesperson told reporters that _20 million had been spent since 1998 on public awareness. A small portion of this came from the European Union, the rest from Ireland’s Exchequer. An exact total cost will probably never be arrived at, but a partial breakdown has been possible — for example, the euro convertor calculators that were delivered free of charge to every Irish household, cost a total of _3.5 million.
Fujitsu to close plant
Fujitsu Isotec has announced that it will close its plant in Blanchardstown, Dublin, with the loss of 127 jobs, the Irish Times has reported.
Previously, Sanmina-SCI said it planned to close its electronic manufacturing services operation in Blanchardstown, transferring all activities to its larger facility in Fermoy, Co. Cork, with the potential loss of 130 jobs.
Fujitsu, which manufactures components and products for serial printers, said it would begin consultation with its employees immediately on the proposed closure of the plant and said it expected operations to cease by the end of January.
The company, which has been based in Blanchardstown since 1989, blamed the closure on the downturn in its particular industry sector. It provided ribbon cassettes and print heads to Fujitsu subsidiaries and group companies in Europe and the U.S. It also carried out contract manufacturing activities for non-Fujitsu client companies in Europe. But the company said serial printer technology had largely been superseded by laser and inkjet printers, sharply reducing its share of the worldwide printer market.
Pressure from competitors, plus the presence of a number of pirate operators, in the shrinking market had resulted in losses, leading to the decision to close, said John McGlynn, human resources and general affairs manager at Fujitsu.
“We’ve been trying to augment our business here with other product lines but, unfortunately, the dreaded day has arrived,” he said. “We have assessed this situation over the last 18 months to the point where we even sought to sell the business to maintain the jobs.” But he said the downturn in the international technology sector ended the company’s hopes of finding a buyer.
More job cuts
Job losses continue: the Volex Group, makers of electronic cables and power cords, has dismissed 230 employees at its Castlebar, Co. Mayo, plant.
About 250 staff will keep their jobs for the time being, one third of the workforce from a year ago.
John Corcoran, managing director of Volex, said the restructuring would concentrate Volex into its Castlebar plant. The company is also laying off 180 staff from its plant at Leigh, near Manchester. After consultation with management, union representatives said that layoffs would not start until February. Many of the largely female staff would find it hard to find work in the area, they said.
Irish tourism will only improve with cheaper airfares and the building of a second terminal at Dublin Airport, according to experts speaking at a tourism forum in Dublin last week.
Dublin Tourism chief executive Frank Magee told =the conference, “The issue is a second terminal. If you get that, you’re going to have competition in pricing. We support the call for cheaper air access to Dublin. The huge loss in air capacity to Dublin will have a detrimental effect on tourism for the whole of Ireland.”
Airline cutbacks during the recession and after Sept. 11 could mean a loss of 600,000 seats to Ireland, Magee said. He also pointed out that Ireland is unique in Europe in not having land access to other countries.
“The bottom line is if we don’t have sea or air access, it just doesn’t work, the figures don’t stack up,” he said. In 2001 tourism fell 7 percent below 2000, when an estimated 7.25 million people visited the island.
Ryanair has said that its new European hub will not be in Ireland, because the cost-slashing airline was not permitted to build a new pier at Dublin Airport.
CEO Michael O’Leary said that the new hub instead would be built in France, Sweden, Italy or Britain. In characteristically combative style, O’Leary said that as a result, Ireland would lose out on one million tourists.
Although the Irish government had given preliminary approval to a new Dublin Airport base for Ryanair, Aer Rianta, the semi-state company that runs Ireland’s airports, objected. Ryanair then cancelled its plans to run 10 new routes out of Dublin and Shannon.
Who let the dogs out?
Irish farmers have launched a campaign to highlight the annual toll taken on livestock by roaming dogs.
The Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association announced the campaign last week, calling for greater public awareness about the problem.
Many sheep have been killed and injured in recent attacks around the country, and an ICSFA spokesperson said that the public needs to be more aware of the problem, particularly dog owners in rural areas. Thousands of euros are lost annually to the problem, he said.
Gorby in Dub
Dublin hosted former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. Gorbachev attended a series of functions and was granted the freedom of the city.
After receiving an honorary degree from Trinity College, he launched the new European Russian Trust, and spoke of the possibilities for further beneficial links between Europe, including Ireland, and Russia.
Lord Mayor Michael Mulcahy accompanied Gorbachev as he visited members of Dublin’s small Russian community. President Mary McAleese hosted a dinner for him a